Friday, September 19, 2008

Mathematics: understanding the score

A new report by Ofsted, Mathematics: understanding the score criticises school maths lessons for being dull, uninspiritional, and "teaching to the test". The report, which received some good coverage on the radio this morning, is also reported here.

The report addresses a common complaint within the British academic computer science community (and presumably in the maths community as well). We see lots of students with supposedly good A levels in maths, who appear to have gained the qualifications based on memorised formulae. And then they go on to use these formulae without a baisc understanding of how or why they work.

The problem is long-standing. Most of my school maths lessons were uninteresting; I think my motivation for pursuing the subject further came from various outside things, e.g. popular science book, puzzles, an exhibit in the Science Museum, etc. And to be fair, some of my lessons were genuinely interesting. Specifically, the ones that did not teach to the test.

It is very good to see this problem get the official recognition that is needed. (Will there be anything similar on computing in schools?)

1 comment:

Jorge Barrero said...

Very interesting... I am working on developing math skills on adults.