Maths is a Very Poorly Taught Subject

Out of all the subjects offered in Primary school, maths strikes me as easily the worst taught. This is for two main reasons:

1. Teachers are almost uniformly from arts and humanities backgrounds rather than maths and science backgrounds. It is staggering to compare those that went down the humanities path in late high school or in their first degree compared to those that have completed major maths units.

2. Maths is often taught in a boring, unimaginative way. Mindless worksheets and excessive reliance on rote knowledge and algorithms are the standard fare in a typical maths classroom.

What many students seem to lose from maths is the practical nature of the subject. We need maths to do the most basic activities in our lives; from counting change, organising our bedroom furniture, telling time, following a map and cooking a meal. This message does not get through to children sick to death of yet another worksheet.

It is the practical reality of maths that provides this truly underrated subject with enourmous scope for creativity. Just take a lesson I invented called “Mission Impossible Maths“, for example.

But as much as I can try to refocus educators about maths, the future looks dire. Policy makers who have invented the killer punch to authentic learning, commonly referred to as standardised testing, are more interested in grades on a formalised test than they are practical knowledge, problem solving and inquiry.

That’s why they continue to push the rote line:

A campaign group promoting maths has attacked plans to overhaul maths teaching in primary schools in England as “undeliverable”.

In a letter to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, National Numeracy says the draft curriculum is “overloaded” and relies too much on rote learning.

The curriculum, due to come into force in 2014, expects children to know up to the 12-times table by the age of nine.

A government spokesman responded: “It is high time rigour is restored.”

National Numeracy says the plans are “seriously flawed” because they rely too much on rote learning.

The group says that rather than raising standards the new curriculum could in practice prevent pupils from developing a strong underlying understanding of mathematics or from having the confidence to apply mathematical theory to everyday problems.

Click on the link to read The Obstacle Course that is Teaching Maths

Click on the link to read Girls and Maths

Click on the link to read Putting Your Children to Sleep With Math

 

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One Response to “Maths is a Very Poorly Taught Subject”

  1. Helen Says:

    I must be fortunate. My Specialist Maths teacher makes it come alive.

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