I believe The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes a relevant point when he says we have an ‘anti-maths’ culture. I don’t think the situation will improve merely by extending compulsory maths to the age of 18 years, on the contrary, the poor teens who have been traumatised thus far have more misery in store with this plan.
When we begin teaching our preschool and very young children (ages 4,5 and 6) about maths its all about fun, colour, building blocks, songs, and play. It’s all about having fun, being creative and exploration. It’s only when we start having to meet benchmarks and targets and start rushing to convey the content of set curriculums that we forget to pay attention to the child’s feelings. Typical curriculum focus fails to generate an appreciation of maths. This is not the fault of the teachers but of an educational system that judges students on performance indicators. The system is not concerned about students’ enjoyment. Sadly, if we continue to focus on content at the expense of feelings then the content is unlikely to stick.
We should endeavour to maintain the early-learning sense of exploration and creativity throughout the whole mathematics learning journey. We should stimulate students through using varied approaches to problem-solving. We should teach students to examine patterns and relationships between numbers and stress the importance of processes rather than just the solutions. This may mean that topics may take longer to cover but it will ultimately result in teaching maths at a much deeper level and finally putting an end to the ‘anti-maths’ culture.