- I was intending not to blog tonight, and was in the process of shutting down my laptop when I found the offending article via Twitter. Unfortunately I got so incensed by it that I had to forgo sleep to rant.
- If you read my blog a lot, you'll know I don't do a lot of ranting and politics - I think the Internet can be a dangerous place to start an argument. This isn't a personal attack against the journalist who wrote the article, but I think putting stuff like this in newspapers is really really damaging for both child and adult numeracy.
If you are baffled by algebra and perplexed by long division, chances are you SUCK at maths.
On a serious note, if you're going to ramp up the maths anxiety at the start of an article, why not pick the two things that people generally don't get in school maths (and arguably aren't particularly relevant to adult life or functional numeracy anyway).
1. You can only do your times tables if you say them out loud.
2. Recipes are so confusing. So how many ounces in a pound or what is 2/3 of a table spoon?! Let’s just get a take away.
4. If you can’t add it up on your fingers you have to use a calculator.
7. You don’t know whether 23.9% APR interest on your credit card is good or bad.
8. Filling out tax forms gives you a panic attack.
10. You got ten minutes into A Beautiful Mind before switching off because…numbers.
11. When people talk maths they may as well be talking in an alien language.
13. For all you know you are paying way too much for your electricity because you have no idea what all the numbers on your bill mean.
16. You will never get a mortgage because it is all too confusing.
18. You have no idea what a logarithm is. But you can spell it. Because while numbers are your enemy, words are your friends.
We've discussed use of the phrase "I'm bad at maths" or "I could never do maths" at school - if pupils hear it coming from adults, that somehow makes it more acceptable. When I meet people for the first time and have the usual life/job chat, some people fall over themselves to tell me how much they hated maths, or were bad at it, or only got a grade D, as if I'm going to say "oh well done you!". This cultural norm of it being "cool" to be bad at maths or to say that you hate maths probably has something to do with the falling numeracy levels, the fact that very few pupils take maths post-GCSE and also the association that "only geeks enjoy maths".
Maths is everywhere - it forms the building blocks of our universe, world, home and electronic devices. Rather than sticking our heads in the sand and saying we don't like it or SUCK at it, why don't we start doing something about it?