Sunday, July 13, 2008

The blame game - why do our students lack numeracy

Of great concern is the lack of basic knowledge of students entering year 11 & 12. It can be said that with the advent of calculators that the need for basic skills has diminished - and this is probably true in courses like yr 12 Discrete mathematics where students can pass (and even do quite well) without sound algebra skills, similarly in yr 12 Modelling. Now that these courses are gone I question whether this will be possible going forward.

Yet the issue starts well before year 10. Kids without sound tables and operation skills find fractions difficult. Students without fractions skills find algebra difficult. Students without basic skills in algebra find yr10-12 a constant struggle.

Although teachers can teach the content, there is now too much content in the curriculum to purely rely on the 40-50mins four times a week - the need for parents to go over the content especially in early years cannot be understated. The thought that kids go to school to learn and when at home have interaction with TV and Playstation is fraught with danger - danger that often isn't realised until yr 10.

I would also hesitate to say that the lack of well trained numeracy experts in the primary field is an issue. This may be a holdover from the lack of male teachers in primary (and we are now in the gap before mathematics confident female teachers enter the primary sector). This transition where the majority of female primary teachers are confident in teaching mathematics and pressing students beyond level 3 mathematics in year seven should (I would hope) occur in the next five years.

If parents put in the basics to allow students to fall into reasonable learning curves in school, students are leagues ahead - as with literacy and students that have reading modelled to them at an early age.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for leaving a comment.. it's good to hear what people think!