Recently the 'right wing' New Zealand Initiative ( a 'think tank' that replaced the earlier Roundtable) published a report on the New Zealand Numeracy Programme by researcher Rose Patterson.
You can read the whole report for yourself if you wish.
The forward written by a banker states:
'With this report, the New Zealand Initiative is raising a timely discussion on this important subject. It argues that the move away from rote learning in our primary schools over the past 15 years has meant that schoolkids no longer get the solid grounding in the basics of maths that they need'.
'Finding the right balance in our schools to inspire and engage children in maths from an early age is critical for their success, and for New Zealand’s'.
I agree with the second comment but worry about this suggestion to move back to rote learning.
Vince Wright's quote from the report below indicates the problem with imposed 'best practices' - they easily revert to 'fixed practices' and sideline 'next practices'.
'The freedom and flexibility of the smaller projects was lost in the interest of national coordination. You put some tools in place and they become a hegemony – a practice – and that restricts your ability to say, can we do this any better'? — Vince Wright, ex-Ministry of Education, personal interview (16 December 2014)
A good idea lost in translation?
The report was countered by a NZ Principals Federation statement:
It is also interesting to note that the recent emphasis on the Numeracy National Standards has done little improve achievement or, more importantly, attitudes towards maths , it has just distorted maths thinking in schools
I am also aware of a number of schools who have opted out of the Numeracy Programme because they had their doubts of its value.
Kekvin Smythe wrote about the numeracy programme in his Networkonnect site March 2015
'A number of us have screamed till we were blue in the face that the numeracy programme was wrong, wrong, wrong … we said leaving out geometry and shape was wrong; we said giving children five different ways to add was wrong (the only children who gained something from it were brighter children, less able children were befuddled, and even for brighter children the time could have been better spent); we said the huge number of objectives, learning outcomes and the like were fragmenting learning, confusing many, slowing it down for all; we said the complex, wandering groups for mathematics was wrong; we said not having numeracy and mathematics combined was wrong; we said the absence of problem-solving, real problem-solving was wrong'.
Well - that's pretty clear!
What hasn't been mentioned is the demeaning use of ability grouping developing poor attitudes for those streamed into the lower groups.
All too often maths has been reduced to formulaic teaching rather than encouraging students to work as mathematicians working on relevant contextual studies being integrated into class or group content inquiries as required.
Kelvin Smythe's latest posting adds more to the debate
A well respected ex maths adviser, and now principal, provided me with his thoughts which are well worth reading - a school that has given away destructive ability grouping making it an exception I would think?
Below are his thoughts:
Background to the Numeracy programme.
|Prof Jo Boaler|
If you want to read more from this 'respected' principal visit this link : Respected principal speaks out about his school's approach to learning and teaching
The school makes use of the ideas of mathematician and educationalist Professor J Boaler I recommend Professor Jo Boaler's book and also the work of Australian maths educationalist Charles Lovett (whose work is also used by the above school).
The school above ,led by an ex maths adviser, makes use of her ideas and a school near me has bought multiple copies which has transformed the teachers attitudes towards maths.
This link to an article by Charles Lovett ( maths educationalist) is well worth the read - better reading than Rose Patterson's misleading report.