New Math Curriculum in the UK Has Serious Errors

September 9, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. by heart (idiom)
[bahy hahrt] – to memorize every detail of something
Example: The pianist played without music sheets because she learned the notes by heart.

2. overloaded (adj.) [oh-ver-loh-did] – full;  having too much content
Example: The report has a lot of information, but it is overloaded with insignificant facts.

3. rote (adj.) [roht] – done with repetition and without much understanding or thought
Example: Children memorize the alphabet by rote learning.

4. outdated (adj.) [out-dey-tid] – old; out-of-date
Example: The outdated equipment in the company needs to be repaired.

5. revision (n.) [ri-vizh-uhn] – changes done on something in order to improve it
Example: The student made revisions in their essays after the teacher corrected them.

Read the text below.

The new math curriculum proposed by the UK’s Department of Education is under criticism for having some serious errors.

The new curriculum to be used by 2014 in British primary schools includes strict methods of teaching such as memorizing up to the 12-times multiplication table.

It also requires specific concepts to be taught at specific levels. Five-year-old students, for instance, are expected to know how to count to 100, while 14 and 15 year olds should know the multiplication table.

With this new curriculum, the Department of Education hopes to raise the standard of teaching math in schools, making it at par with the best in the world. The department thinks strict teaching of math will help children know the basics by heart. By learning the basics, the children can proceed to more complex math concepts.

However, the National Numeracy, an organization that promotes math education, finds the suggested curriculum overloaded and dependent on rote learning. Teaching math through this method prevents students from learning how to apply math in their everyday lives.

Government official Stephen Twigg points out that the proposed curriculum leads to an outdated teaching style which does not consider how students learn in different ways.

To fix the flaws, the government is urged to revise the proposal, even if the revision will cause delay. The National Numeracy advised studying other methods of teaching math, like the successful methods used in New Zealand and Singapore.

The full curriculum will be submitted by the government in the new year for formal consultation.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that math should not be learned by memory? Why or why not?
·         How do you think people can improve their mathematical abilities?

Discussion B
·         How important is learning math?
·         Why do you think some people do not like math?

September 9, 2012