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Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by siddons_sara, Dec 17, 2011.
My fault, I confused attainment targets and levels.
You worried me there!
It's because as the report states that currently attainment targets are given in level format and because it said attainment targets were going to be retained in maths, english and science, I thought it would be the same idea.
Not exactly sure how it will work like. As the report says, think it will be hard to move people away from levels. Also what happens if a student does not meet the Year 3 criteria when they are in Year 7!!!!
I also note that they don't really go into much detail and base a lot of their comments on what Professor Black has said. They also said this needs exploring further. Could be interesting.
When will the gouvernement learn that if you pay someone to research something then they will inevitable suggest change to justify the millions the project has cost. We will the changes be for the best - history suggests not.
Will the next gouvernment dish out more millions to some other bod for the next "new" idea?
At the same time they hack off half the profession by screwwing our pensions and freezing our salaries.
Even if the nest curriculum is the best thing since sliced bread is there going to be anybody left to teach it?
The attainment targets are just statements of key things students are supposed to master at each Key Stage (or half Key Stage for KS2). It is supposedly impossible for a child to not meet Year 3 criteria in Year 7 as they will have been subjected to non-stop intervention for four years. The Expert Panel have noticed that SEN children may not fit this cosy model but just say "more work will need to be done around these issues".
Are yes the old idea that anyone can be taught anything and if not the teacher is ****.
My worst failing as an NQT was to believe that anybody could do it and I (the great teacher that I was) would be able to teach them. - It took me about 3 months to learn the error of my ways and I was poignantly informed by one of my year 11's Thanks for trying Sir but I couldn't do it in primary, I couldn't do it in year 7 and I still can't do it!
I learned my lesson but it seems others (maybe lacking real world experience (dare i suggest) have not.
When faced with your argument Tim Oates counters "Almost every child manages to reach the required standard in each of the high-achieving jurisdictions" Mike. He has repeatedly been reminded that these are very different societies to ours.
Before replying to this I'd like to just say that I come from a family with modest income, being the first to go to university, so I hope people won't take my comments as snobbish.
In many of these Far Eastern countries poor people see education as being a way out of their difficulties, in the UK this is something that is largely absent and if anything, people see education as being something quite alien to them. It's going to take more than a curriculum review to change that way of looking at things.
I have every sympathy with where you are coming from Mike, many of us have been through that idealistic phase and then hit a brick wall. Never mind Mike, if you or I struggle with this then I'm quite sure that Tim Oates will be happy to come and lend a hand with our bottom set Year 11s.
All the mentions of intervention sound like there will be lots of opportunities for one to one tutoring going, it might even work out more profitable than being a classroom teacher!
I have to say, if we got it right on concepts instead of racing through content in primary, then maybe you wouldn't find your bottom sets in y11 quite so far below expectations!
I mostly agree, but I think there's rather too much emphassis placed on "concepts" and nothing like enough on "doing".
Kids "get" what addition, subtraction and multiplication are (the first two are hard wired in before birth!) - the problem is, generally, that they don't practice a single way of doing any of them to be absolutely rock solid and confident they'll always get the "right" answer.
And much of that does come from primaries and the way primaries have, just like secondaries, to show "progress" in every lesson (consolidation doesn't count as "teaching & learning") and also the way that kids apparently have to be shown at least half-a-dozen ways of doing everything.
I've long since lost count of the number of times kids have said to me, "I thought I knew how to do x, but then the teacher showed us a different way and I got all confused."
They really do have to be shown an effective ways to, say, add up. And then they need to practice that method for weeks, perhaps months.
Only then introduce the next step. That really is the only way that works.
Our system's obsession with the insanity that we must have a new objective for every lesson since there must be progress every lesson is the root of the problems (IMHO).
I couldn't agree more Paul about the need to show 'progression' in every lesson rather than leaving at least some time for 'consolidation'. It often feels like something of a treadmill as we dash from one thing to another, sometimes without pupils having the time to really internalise what they have learned.
A thinning out of the primary curriculum is well over due and if that makes it through then it is certain to be welcomed.
I'm not entirely sure I agree with you on the 'one method' idea. The makings of pupils who are successful in maths is that their thinking is flexible, so that they can apply the most appropriate method in a given situation. For those less successful, particularly with regard to numeracy, a feature is that they usually end up doing things that are actually far harder than their more successful counterparts, simply because they have never picked up on a range of methods. It's an interesting one though, and if I had the answer I feel I would become rather rich!
I have to disagree with the one method idea also. In fact while I would like all student to be familiar with efficient formal algorythyms true understanding comes surely from understandings the concepts so that many varied methods can be applied depending on the circumstances.
I would rather primary school concentrated on number skills and ensured students could rewally do them properly using formal and informal methods thus giving the students the fundamentals in arithmetic that so many of our students lack.
In many cases that combined with a bit of shape and space and data handling would give students much better prpeartation for secondary than they get at present.
Ofcourse while league tables exist this will never happen - why spend years gettings kids highly skilled in level 3/4 skills when the gouvernment insists they have to be level 5 and when this can be far easier achoeved by teaching things such as algebra which the kids dont understand at all but because they can tell you that 3a + 2a makes 5a, or use those terrible function machines all is well.
All number in primary might be a bit dull but I agree totally with the emphasis that Paul and Mike are suggesting, and yes, some very basic shape work (names and sorting), plus data handling (a bit of pictograms/reading off from bar charts), would be more than sufficient. It's been a recurring theme on here that the failure to embed number skills at an early stage turns many children off from maths.
Mike and Paul, I expect Mr. Gove will be posting our cheques for consultancy shortly (though on second thoughts, we expressed what's needed rather too succinctly, I'm sure consultants get paid by the physical weight of what they produce!).
In an ideal world, I'd love it if the kids had multiple methods at their disposal and were able to make sensible decisions about which to employ for the problem in front of them (hey, since it's an ideal world, let's go all the way and have them find the embedded problems from a rich task!)
But, away from that ideal, I'd rather they knew one method really well than the current thing I see which is they're more or less useless whatever the method.
Being good at maths requires practice. The more methods you choose to teach, the more the practice time increases so the question has to be asked - and even in my ideal world, classroom time is limited.
Throwing 6 different ways to multiply at a class in the hope each kid will find a way that suits them just doesn't work IMHO - the very able ones can usually make an excellent choice, but the others seem to go for half-remembered partial methods and fall over very quickly if the numbers are large.
And at the bottom end of even the top sets there are kids who cannot reliably multiply a pair of 3 digit numbers.
And that's not lack of ability, nor lack of "understanding".
It's lack of practice.
That's not far off the system I went through. We did a bit more in what would now be called year 6 (perhaps because we'd taken our 11+ tests so there was time to do other stuff), but I never remember it being dull.
Maths was my favourite lesson - I seem to remember that it was almost everyone's favourite lesson or at least no one was afraid of it.
And with my knowledge of teaching I'd speculate that was because we all understood what to do, there were clear success criteria (didn't need LOs/WILTs/WALTs - a page of "ticks" was what we were all looking for) and I guess the teacher was managing a little bit of differentiation without us noticing. Or maybe there wasn't any differentiation - after all, once you know how to do column addition and get the carries right, it doesn't really matter how big the numbers are as long as you're getting the practice.
Maybe it was dull for some of the teachers, but again as I don't think any of them were maths specialists I'd guess it wasn't - they weren't required to waste their evenings coming up with resources we could destroy in the first few minutes of the lesson, they simply handed out text books, told us to get on with it and, I think, got on with some marking while we worked.
Good for them. Good for us.
Absolutely. Nothing wrong with any of that, providing the basic number skills have been mastered first.
And by "mastered", I mean pen/paper methods of four-function arithmetic covering 6 digit numbers, decimals & fractions.
I couldn't agree more.
What turns kids on is success. What turns them off is repeated failure.
They can't succeed at any of the secondary topics without a strong sense of number*. Everything else is a "nice to have".
*And, let's be honest, literacy. The other reason I find lower set kids can't succeed is because they can't access the resources - they can't read instructions and can't decode questions.
Different methods of calculation are more/less helpful in different situations. Sometimes lower ability pupils struggle down to their chosen method not being the most efficient for a particular calculation, so they give up.
I agree, better to have one method firmly embedded than to have half a dozen half learned and thus useless, that's self evident.
I don't think it necessarily is so idealistic to wish for pupils to come from primary thoroughly proficient in a range of mental arithmetic techniques. Slimming down the curriculum at primary would give the chance for pupils to spend longer on numeracy and to develop/master those techniques.
In terms of what is/is not boring, it's always easy to draw on ones own experience and suppose that others have found it so too. I did very strongly say that I felt the curriculum should be slimmed down to allow more time for numeracy.
I would agree that literacy is a major issue and that throughout school, 'story maths' has done more damage than good to the very people it was supposed to help. What's the point of putting things in a 'real world context' when often those contexts mean little to those they are intended to engage and very often they can't read them anyhow?