The BBC have run this story about concerns over the teaching of maths in schools. Ofsted are apparently concerned that maths teaching is ‘often too narrow’ and stifles creative thinking about the subject. As a result many children are turned off the subject and don’t feel they understand it.
And is this because teachers are teaching to the assessment tests? Well, duh, what do we think kids?
While this Ofsted report is pretty welcome, it’s also galling because it simply states the obvious; moreover it confirms all of the warnings people gave about teaching quality when the current raft of testing for kids was introduced. Unsurprisingly, the schools minister (Jim Knight) is defending the government’s position. This is interesting given his long and illustrious eductional experience. Not. Here’s a tip Jim, you know pretty much the square root of diddly squat about schools really. Opening your mouth after a week in the job is just asking for trouble.
The sad part of all of this, of course, is hidden amongst the mudslinging, and it’s this: maths is a wondeful and fascinating subject, yet our schools seem to be crippled and our education system is struggling to keep up with the rest of the modern world in our need for technically and scientifically focused people. Mathematics is the language of science (of physics most particularly), so if we don’t produce people who are ‘literate’ in maths, our hopes of producing future generations of scientists and technicians are much eroded. Meanwhile, successive governments plant their heads in the sand and claim there’s little if anything wrong.
How very sad indeed.
As an aside, if you want an indication of how wonderfully elegant and beautiful maths can be, have a look at this wikipedia entry.