I have just started watching a TV programme about peoples' numerical skills
in the UK. It claims that around half the adult population has the
mathematics ability of a primary school child (ages 5-11 I think). So
if half of the population has learnt nothing about maths from 11
onwards, then it seems to follow that no purpose was served in them attending maths
classes from the age 11 onwards. At least not in terms of their education.

This
seems to me to be a deplorable situation when we consider that
mathematics is the second most important skill that we should acquire at
school; the most important of course being English
Language. There again many peoples' English language skills are also
equally abysmal and they don't seem to have learnt much in this
subject after 11 years old either.

Yet
people harp on about how incredibly important school is and claim it's
disadvantageous for a child even if he or she misses a single day.
Well, if we are to believe this statistic, then at least for half of us
this doesn't appear to be true.

Consider also that
apart from holidays children are required to
attend school 5 days a week from 9am-4pm (in my day, might be 9-3 now?).
It seems to me that to a significant degree we are robbed of our
childhood and in engaging in childhood pleasures such as playing, or
reading, or doing any one of innumerable pleasurable
things. Instead we are compelled to sit in classrooms where a
significant
proportion of us learn very little and are presumably bored to tears. To
rub it in further UK Government ministers keep proposing that children
should attend school at an earlier and earlier age, and do more
homework!

Although this might sound surprising to many,
I actually regret not playing truant in my school days.
I learnt next to nothing before the age of around 14. In all honestly
being compelled to attend school up to the age of 14 was a lamentable
disgraceful waste of my childhood.

It seems to me
there's something really seriously wrong with the whole system. I've
asked many people what a 1/3 divided by a 1/9 equals. A good majority
of people give me the wrong answer -- most often 1/27. This suggests
that they either do not understand what a fraction is, do not understand
what "divide" means, or quite possibly do not understand what either
word means. The answer is of course 3. 1/3 divided by a 1/9 means how
many times does 1/9 go into 1/3. Since 3/9 is another way of expressing
1/3, then the answer is 3.

And many people use "your"
rather than "you're", loose rather than lose, "noone" rather than "no
one", there instead of their or they're. The list goes on and on. I
should hasten to add that my grammatical skills are not particular
impressive, but the good majority of people have even worse skills in
this area.

I don't know the methods by which
children have been taught in recent
years. But clearly -- at least for mathematics and English language -- a
serious rethink in how children are taught these subjects is in order.
It also seems to me that reducing the hours we attend school might be a
good idea -- perhaps attending 9am- 12pm for 5 days a week. It frees
up more time for children to pursue activities of their own choosing,
and possibly might ignite a greater interest, and hence a greater
understanding in the subjects being taught if they are not being
continually exposed to the same subject matter. I'm interested in the
philosophy of mind, but if I were compelled to think and write about it
for hours every day, then that flame of interest might well be in danger
of diminishing.

## No comments:

## Post a Comment