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Confused by maths puzzle

I am very confused by your December 8 issue. On page 11 ("Maths scores still spoil the picture"), in a box about mathematics results and Britain's poor performance, it is stated that, "a higher proportion of 14-year-olds reported that they frequently worked by themselves on textbooks and worksheets".

The message is clear: individual working is bad, whole-class teaching is good. This has been the thrust of policy for a long time now. But then on page 15 ("Let a friend do the marking...") a website that "tailors national curriculum work to an individual child's needs, marks it and keeps a record of progress" is lauded as a truly wonderful innovation.

So what do I do? I have for many years now tried to tailor my teaching to an individual child's needs, mark work and keep records but using textbooks, worksheets, workcards, computer activities, and practical equipment. The criticism from many quarters has been intense, but I have persevered. Why is it then that my low-tech version is the cause of all our problems, but the very same textbook explanations, worksheets, marking and record-keeping on a website is the solution to all our problems?

If I try to interact with pupils individually in person, I am wrong; but if the same interaction is supplied electronically, then it is right.

Will some clever professor of mathematics education please explain to me why individualised teaching performed by a real person is bad, but individualised teaching delivered electronically is good.

Paul Garcia 24 Rowan Drive Turnford Broxbourne Hertfordshire

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