Old certainties are being challenged.

Our knowledge is being constantly challenged. For anyone over the age of 30, their school experience seems like a stroll through the Antiques Road Show but without the inflated and much anticipated price tag.

Why do we cling to the past?

Almost every day we are bombarded by exhortations to change this, experience this brand-new product, or transform our modus operandi. These are heady times. So why do we still cling on to antiquated subject divisions within the school curriculum?

Maths is a part of almost everything we do. 

Anyone watching Wimbledon would have been fascinated by the topspin Nadal was able to generate at will. Andy Murray has a mean top spin too. Looking at the stats and how coaches’ analysis can transform performance through these we are made aware that numbers also underpins a love of sports and entertainment in general.

Maths and me don’t get on

If you discovered the maths scholars website it’s more than likely that an algorithm has done the work to serve up your requests. So it’s quite depressing to hear young people utter phrases such as:  I’m no good at maths or maths and me don’t get on all or even I’m just not a maths person. It’s almost like saying:  I refuse to read anything that passes in front of my eyes. But here we have it, another academic year all but over and there are too many students whose poor showing in maths tests just goes to under score their perceived inability to comprehend mathematics.

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Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

Mathematics is like oxygen. We need it to maintain our highly complex and technical lives. This subject has never been more valuable in every respect. As we move into a world of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data, numbers will impact us all. Therefore a more cross-curricular approach might well inspire passion and understanding regarding just how seminal mathematics is for all of us.

Do we also need a different type of maths teacher?

So should mathematics education be further transformed? Or is it something more basic. Have we all being seduced into believing that some kids can just do maths with little effort? Do we need to work with parents to increase the exposure to maths from a very early age?  Should we be teaching number games and rhymes in parenting classes to stop the massive gap between children who start school with a modicum of number exposure and those who have experienced almost nothing?

Success breeds success

Do we need to dispel the myth that you need to be a genius to do well in mathematics? Quite often success breeds success. After all, we are unlikely to want to spend more time on the subject we perceived to be difficult. Genetic ability does not necessarily determine performance differences. Students need to realise that working hard and being more proactive will make a difference to mathematical understanding.
Should we be focusing on real maths? What are the solutions for mathematics education in the next decade? What are your suggestions?