Saturday, March 5, 2011

Forcing this wont work either.

I was rubbish at maths when I was in school, though I could do fairly complex sums by way of mental arithmetic simply by knowing my times tables by rote. It wasn't until I left school and went to college via day release in my apprenticeship that maths suddenly became comprehensible as it was applied to engineering and electrical constraints. Until then it was just complex formulas seemingly for the sake of complex formulas. It didn't take college long to get various young men (women didn't really do engineering then) of low education standards (the smart one went on to 6th form and university) up to A level standards in mathematics, even using calculus at some stage. The key I believe (at least for me) was seeing how the application worked in phase theory and power generation where a mystical formula could be transformed to give the results required to show what you actually got when you built something, in other words how the maths applied to a real life problem.


Pupils who fail to get good GCSE grades in English and maths should be forced to keep studying the subjects until they are 18, under Government-backed proposals.

An independent review of vocational education also found up to a third of non-academic courses are "pointless" while others actually harm employment chances.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is expected to adopt many of the recommendations.
A senior Government source close to Mr Gove told Sky News: "This is a blueprint of what we want to do. We agree with 99% of it.
"In particular, Michael Gove is very inclined to adopt the policy of compulsory English and maths."
Under the plans, around 300,000 pupils a year who fail to achieve at least a C grade in English and maths will be forced to keep studying the subjects until the age of 18.
I simply can't see this working other than making kids even more disruptive in class unless they can somehow come up with a way to make it relevant to the kids. Whilst there is the possibility of some kids coming under the tutelage of an inspiring teacher who can make it interesting, I suspect many of them will be faced with the same old, same old treatment in maths which they get every year and which if the reports are to be believed fail them year in year out.
Perhaps a look at how the subject is taught might be better than simply making it compulsory until they leave school. I don't know what the answer is, but unless we can get it to the stage where maths is something kids want to do, we aren't going to get much further. 

3 annotations:

Anonymous said...

My contemporaries matured from comics by the age of ten and eagerly read King Solomon's Mines, Treasure Island and adventure stories of that genre, at home. They were also competent at mental arithmetic/fractions and dutifully prepared for the 11+. I refer to those days prior to the advent of disruptive pupils in classrooms.

Without no-nonsense teaching, many of us would never have progressed beyond the comic reading stage. Learning is kick started and maintained by external discipline until such time as the student can impose the hunger and mindset upon himself/herself.

microdave said...

I doubt if I would have been quite so interested in science and metalwork if schools in the 70's were as ham-strung by rules and regulations as they are now. The number of times I (or others) nearly blew ourselves up, or electrocuted each other was amazing.

Or having a metalwork teacher who encouraged my skills with a lathe when others were still trying to use a file...

And just having teachers who could motivate a class, and if needs be, change the subject when it was obvious no one was paying attention.

I'm still pretty crap at maths, though I can fully understand its need. My father spent 40 years designing buildings with a slide rule & log tables - I've always been more of a " just make it and see what happens" sort of person!

Barman said...

Time and time again we have 'experts' adding new layers and rules to solve 'problems' like this...

Go back to basics and fix schools so that they churn out children that can read, write and pass a maths O-level.

Then we wouldn't have to have these stupid (and expensive) schemes and we wouldn't have to have parents trying to get their kids to a 'good' school because the local one is shite.

And stop trying to send thick, practical kids to university.