LETTER: The future of maths teaching
As there has been a recent announcement that the government is going to give some help to encourage more pupils to become interested in mathematics, I would like to offer some practical advice.
This is justified by the fact that I am a retired maths teacher, having spent 36 years teaching at secondary level in four different schools under both GCE/CSE and GCSE exam systems.
The advice is very simple: scrap the National Curriculum Maths Syllabus and go back to the mixture of modern and traditional maths that it replaced.
This mixture encouraged much more interest in mathematics than the present system of three quarters arithmetic, algebra and geometry, no different than that I learnt back in the ’50s, with some statistics thrown in as a concession to the passing of time.
Most pupils regard maths as an evil necessity as career advisers tell them they need a certain grade in order to go onto whatever may be their real interest in life and with the present syllabus this is rather like constantly banging your head against a brick wall until enough time has passed that you can escape the education system. Hardly the right way to encourage more interest in the subject.
Hopefully, our local MPs will read this and pass on my advice to the appropriate people.
Just one other thought for the reader to contemplate: why is there always the insistence that we must have more good maths graduates teaching?
I have made no use of all the higher-level maths that I learnt whilst at college, simply because it is way beyond the level of maths taught in school.
I have also seen some graduates with first-class honours degrees in the classroom who were a total disaster.
They had no idea of how to communicate with pupils nor any understanding of why the pupils could not understand what was to them very basic ideas.
They should have been kept at university to lecture to undergraduates and do research, everybody would then have benefited.