It’s been the elephant in the room, we don’t want to talk about it but it is now coming into the open. We as a nation are not very good at maths.
We are not ashamed to openly admit that we are “no good at maths” but are also comfortable to do nothing about it. I meet many people who have had a bad experience of maths at school and now find the mention of the words “algebra, long division or geometry” sends chills down the spine and brings back painful memories of classes where they understood nothing.
So what can we do? We need a two-pronged approach by working with children to ensure we are not producing even more adults with low maths skills and a fear of numbers and also working with adults to make sure we engage them and help them with the practicalities of maths in everyday life.
For further info visit National Numeracy
So where do we start? To stop the tide of more and more adults with low numeracy skills we must start by helping children to succeed at maths in school. We have a lot of children who come to our centres in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket who have been left behind as the National Curriculum rolls inexorably onwards. They have been taught methods which may be current thinking but do not take into account the needs and learning styles of the child. (See my post on “Chunking“)
Maths has become too abstract and not practical enough. We must not forget that maths is not just a way of helping you to understand why your credit card costs you a fortune to repay but it is in itself a way to enhance logical thought and problem solving.
There are too many teachers at primary level who are not confident in their own ability to teach maths and there are many at secondary level who have such a high level of maths they cannot relate to their students.
We need an approach which takes into account that we all learn maths in our own way. There is a difference between the way girls and boys view maths (which could be either cultural or in their make up). Only then can we stop the production of low numeracy attainment.