The UK Government have released a draft primary school Programme of Study for mathematics for consultation.
The announcement was much covered in the press, which focused on the ‘back to basics’ approach. The Daily Mail reported that “times tables are to be put back at the heart of the curriculum for children’s first years at school for the first time in decades” with other details reported including learning how to calculate using decimal places and fractions, and dealing with numbers up to ten million.
Marcus du Sautoy has lent his weight to The Telegraph’s numeracy campaign, Make Britain Count. In an interview covering maths and music, patterns and abstraction and a little about his and his children’s mathematics education, he also talks about how maths teaching in schools could be improved, stating that
in this country there’s an honour in saying you’re bad at maths, whereas in places such as India and China, mathematics is valued by the community. Parents there know that if their kids understand this language, they will be empowered. Sadly, this message hasn’t got across in many European countries yet… It’s got to be something that the whole society takes responsibility for and that is why I’m supporting the Telegraph’s Make Britain Count campaign. We’re not brave enough in our maths education these days. Kids get so bored at school from 11 to 14. They’re not exposed to the really interesting stuff.
Source: Make Britain Count: Marcus du Sautoy joins our campaign.
Matt’s latest set of puzzles, as part of the Make Britain Count campaign, are online at The Telegraph. This round of puzzles is all about factors, and there have been previous puzzle sets about consecutive numbers and prime numbers.
Dara O’Briain has written a piece for the Telegraph’s numeracy campaign. Dara, as he explains, has “a deep passion for maths and physics”, having studied mathematical physics at University College, Dublin prior to starting his career in comedy.
Dara writes about maths and “cool”.
I’m often asked to speak about science, in the vain hope that the perceived “cool” of entertainment will somehow rub off onto the science and make it more alluring. Nothing like a heavy, bald 40-year-old to make something “cool”.
Listen. Maths is never going to be “cool”, other than to the sizeable rump of destined-to-love-it-no-matter-how-it’s-presented kids who are like I was at 15.
He argues that maths should be compulsory in schools, like PE, because it is good for pupils, giving both pragmatic – “exercise for the brain” – arguments and philosophical ones. The latter is likely to more attractive here:
Maths is one of the greatest achievements of humanity. It is the common language of science; it has allowed us to drag ourselves from ignorance by creating communal knowledge, which in turn enables us to master our world and to understand our universe. Maths teaches us to spot patterns, to predict behaviour and the steps of an argument. Maths is, above all, a way of approaching problems – stripping things down, extracting the relevant information, and then solving them.
Improving numeracy, Dara says, is more than just enabling people “to be faster at calculating the cost of the weekly shop”, citing the use of statistics in “a world of claim and counterclaim”.
Maths reform campaign: Sum up: you’ll hang on to your knighthood.
As part of the Telegraph numeracy campaign “Making Britain Count”, Matt Parker’s second set of puzzles are online. This time they are themed around prime numbers.
Telegraph: Numeracy campaign: More maths puzzles by Matt Parker.