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Our fixation with maths doesn’t add up

Discussion in 'Education news' started by FrankWolley, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    I rather agree!

    Charge the maths lobby with the uselessness of its subject and the answer is a mix of chauvinism and vacuity. Maths must be taught if we are to beat the Chinese (at maths). Or it falls back on primitivism, that maths “trains the mind”. So does learning the Qur’an and reciting Latin verbs.

    Meanwhile, the curriculum systematically denies pupils what might be of real use to them and society. There is no “need” for more mathematicians. The nation needs, and therefore pays most for, more executives, accountants, salesmen, designers and creative thinkers.

    At the very least, today’s pupils should go into the world with a knowledge of their history and geography, their environment, the working of their bodies, the upbringing of children, law, money, the economy and civil rights.

    This is in addition to self-confidence, emotional intelligence and the culture of the English imagination. All are crowded out by a political obsession with maths.

    The reason is depressingly clear. Maths is merely an easy subject to measure, nationally and internationally. It thus facilitates the bureaucratic craving for targetry and control. The prominence of maths in the curriculum is education’s version of Orwell’s imaginary boot, “stamping on your face … forever”.
  2. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This message brought to you by the Confederation of British Industry.
  3. Owennnn

    Owennnn Occasional commenter

    Arguably 3 heavily maths based careers?

    I still firmly believe Maths and English Language to be the two most life applicable subjects, I use both on a daily basis, whereas my knowledge of the Tudors, or Agriculture from 1750-1900 is used less regularly.

    That being said, I do think the sheer volume of skills Maths teaches up to the age of 16 may be a bit needless for those not looking to take it further. I can probably count on one hand the number of real life situations where Circle Theorems and the Sine Rule would be useful.
    wanet likes this.
  4. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I still can't recall a time when I have ever needed to divide a fraction by another fraction! However, I can still remember how to do it (for what that's worth!) and will be teaching it to the Y6 intervention group I am working with this afternoon, so it must be important.
  5. Benbamboo

    Benbamboo Occasional commenter

    We have a fixation on past methods and ideas without thinking about how things have changed or what the future holds.

    I am still baffled by the animosity towards calculators, especially at primary schools. We don't live in a world anymore where long division or multiplication is necessary. In the past it was vital, because that was the most efficient method. Now we have calculators, and that is the most efficient method. Time is wasted writing out long calculations when application is a much more important skill.

    It all falls into the question: "what is education for". Everyone has an opinion and there is no definitive right/wrong answer, but we can all argue our corners.
    silverfell85 likes this.
  6. stevejp65

    stevejp65 New commenter

    The 'animosity towards calculators' doesn't (generally) come from the primary teachers. In my 30 year career, I have lost count of the number of times that calculators have been either in or out of favour, depending on the whims of whichever politician happened to be in the education post at the time.
    silverfell85, wanet and Middlemarch like this.
  7. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Calculators may be used. Calculators may not replace mental and written calculation.
    wanet likes this.
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    The changed Primary curriculum in Maths makes some sort of sense as a basis for passing onto a further five year of Maths education. On the other hand, the extensive list of grammar terms that no one has ever heard of, to be learnt and regurgitated makes little or no sense, and can largely make little difference to the next stages of learning.
  9. nical73

    nical73 Occasional commenter

    Calculators may be used. Calculators may not replace mental and written calculation.

    No - calculators Cannot be used!
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    If 'no one' had read the Primary National Curriculum then they would have heard of them.

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