I am not particularly surprised by the finding that bright students, in particular, are being failed by poor maths instruction. It’s been my experience that most teachers come from a strictly humanities (i.e. English, Politics, History) background. These teachers often shirk maths and science as it isn’t their forte.
In a damning report, the watchdog warned that the scale of underachievement at school was a “cause of national concern” that risks robbing the country of well-qualified mathematicians, scientists and engineers.
It said that many of the most gifted children were “insufficiently challenged” at primary and secondary level after being set the same work as mid-ranking classmates.
Inspectors insisted that too much teaching focused on the use of “disconnected facts and methods” that pupils were expected to memorise and replicate without any attempt to solve complex problems in their heads.
Large numbers of pupils are also being pushed into sitting maths GCSEs a year early – forcing schools to completely ignore many of the most demanding algebra topics, it was revealed.
In a highly-critical conclusion, Ofsted said that teaching was not good enough in almost half of English state schools, with almost no improvements being made in the last four years.
I realise that what I am writing is a gross generalisation, but I believe that maths is generally taught in a very abstract and monotonous way. No wonder the students are not benefitting from maths instruction at the primary level. Traditional maths teaching involves worksheets, a mindless array of algorithms and plenty of other rote styled goodies.
The tragedy of it all is that maths can be taught in a completely different way. I find the basic skills of maths the most refreshing and creatively exciting subject to teach. The fact that maths is a composite of everyday skills means it translates wonderfully to problem solving activities.