Problem with the culture of maths

12th December 2008 at 00:00

I read with interest Adi Bloom's article on the opinions of maths from 44 pupils aged 6-12 ("Attitudes to maths fixed by the age of 9", TES, December 5).

I provide training for learning difficulties in maths. Two years ago, I began asking teachers at what age does poor motivation become an influential factor in a noticeable number of pupils. Consistently, the answer was eight, although some would observe this influence earlier, and some later.

I have started to collect more detailed data from teachers over the past year. The mode age observed is seven and the key factors include: "the maths culture of answering quickly"; "having to memorise facts"; and "mental arithmetic". Other factors raised were "parental pressure" and "frequent absences".

The new report from Sir Jim Rose suggests more emphasis should be placed on understanding rather than memorising. Others have made the same observation, yet there remains a belief that all children can rote-learn all facts and procedures.

Maybe someone will recognise that many learners need a different approach, and make the necessary changes.

Steve Chinn, Education consultant, Ledbury, Herefordshire.

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