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Exciting shift to reasoning in MYP mathematics: Q&A with Terry Linton

Join Terry Linton, curriculum director for the Beanstalk education group in Beijing, as he uses his mathematics expertise to talk about the enhancements in Middle Years Programme (MYP) mathematics and ways for schools to get ready for the proposed changes.

Exciting shift to reasoning in MYP mathematics: Q&A with Terry Linton

Terry Linton has been teaching in the IB programmes for the last 12 years, mostly teaching mathematics, but also sciences. He is a workshop leader for the IB and a school visiting team member. Terry currently works as curriculum director for the Beanstalk education group in Beijing, China.

“The things that have me really excited is the focus on reasoning and developing those reasoning skills … It is reasoning that allows students to detect patterns, to identify relationships, to analyse situations and to solve problems. And that’s really at the core of what mathematics is.”

Listen to learn more about how Terry participated in the curriculum review for Middle Years Programme (MYP) mathematics, providing upskilling for IB educators who are going to lead the subject specific seminars. Find out more by clicking here.

Most exiting enhancement for Terry

Unlike the Diploma Programme (DP) guides, the new guide for MYP mathematics is a revision or an update. The most exiting enhancement for Terry is the focus on reasoning and developing those reasoning skills.

Current mathematics skills framework Focus on reasoning
Number Numberical and abstract reasoning
Algebra Thinking with models
Geometry and trionometry Spatial reasoning
Statistics and probability Reasoning with data
Re-naming the four branches of mathematics study in the MYP
Image from the MYP mathematics development report (January 2019)

How are the new enhancements going to address the needs of students, teachers and schools?

  • Teachers will be required to think about their own views on mathematics and perhaps remind themselves on why they got into teaching in mathematics in the first place.
  • Students will have an opportunity to develop the idea of utilizing the power and beauty of mathematics. And that is quite exciting.
  • The addition of the stratified framework and the division of that into standard, extended and enrichment is really going to help schools in their curriculum mapping. So, thinking about exactly what they need to do, taking a look at the prior learning list and moving that mapping into the primary years and then mapping right through the MYP, right into the DP. It is going to give them a better way of taking a look at their entire math programme and how they are meeting the needs of their students.

Decisions are up to the school

Terry expects schools to have questions about implementing the enhancements, such as:

  • What is the difference between standard, extended and enrichment in the new skills framework? Do we have to cover off all of this material?
  • I have a locally mandated curriculum in my country or in my school. Do I need to teach everything? How is it going to work?

The key thing is that these decisions are still up to the school. The MYP is still a framework. It is meant to fit any curriculum that a school needs to provide to students and to the community.

The only situation where a school really needs to think about matching the curriculum to the topics in the new guide is if the school is moving towards eAssessment. “You really need to make sure you are preparing your students with the topics that are in the guide. The blueprint for the on-screen assessment is going to remain the same. However, 2022 will be the first testing of the new topics.”

Is there any interplay or relationship between what is happening in the guide that reflects changes to standards and practices overall?

Terry explains: “In the past iteration of the programme standards and practices, we looked at teaching through the angle of curriculum and now we are looking at it through the angle of learning. I believe that it allows students to be able to much more construct meaning through inquiry, action and reflection. The new standards and practices are taking inquiry-based learning, conceptual understanding and moving that through all four programmes. So, it is going to be much easier to align our thinking across the schools in terms of our understanding of the continuum.

But it also allows us to take a look at what we are doing in developing of the skills. So, the reworking of the framework and the reworking of the guide to take a look at mathematical thinking. I believe it is the response to what the thinking and learning actually is and what our responsibility is to develop it. It is a little bit more explicit. There is an aspect of it that takes a look at developing lifelong learners and that is our ultimate goal.”

Terry’s advice for schools to help them get ready for the enhancements in MYP mathematics:

Come to a subject specific seminar.

Plan for a complete curriculum review plan.

Align the standard and extended topics with whatever curriculum standard that you are required to follow.

Take a careful look at the approaches to learning or ATL planning charts.

Include the two new related concepts in your units.

Reflect on our own practice.


Terry Linton is a math expert from the Beanstalk Education Group in Beijing, China.

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