Why is it socially acceptable to be innumerate, but not illiterate?...

9th March 2007 at 00:00
Why is it socially acceptable to be innumerate, but not illiterate? Too often I meet parents who claim they were never good at maths either Wendy, Tankerton

A. You are spot on. All the international league tables bear witness to the fact that we are sending young people into work with under-developed numeracy skills.

And I'm not convinced we do much better in literacy. But technology skills have shown a remarkable leap.

If only someone could harness numeracy and literacy to technology skills, maybe then we would be in business.

Pat, Brighton

A. Perhaps the scariest thing is that this problem appears to be getting worse. It's tempting to go into nostalgic mode and recall, dewy-eyed, the days when even the weakest pupils would while away happy hours solving equations just for fun.

OK, so it was never thus, but it's shocking now - with pupils scared of, or indifferent to, numbers in equal measure.

Graham, Crowborough

A. Is it too "left-field" to link the lack of numeracy skills in our society to the spiralling levels of personal debt? I think the answer lies beyond the remit of schools, it appears to be a cultural issue. Carol Vorderman for Prime Minister?

Rod, London

A. I teach in the FE sector and am no stranger to "I don't do numbers"

syndrome. My overseas students look somewhat bemused by the limitations of UK students, who, as you imply, often seem to wear their innumeracy like a badge of honour.

If someone could sort it out in the schools, their FE colleagues would be eternally grateful.

John, Worthing

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now