Thursday, January 20, 2011

Primary teachers need intensive math training, not Higher Level Math ability

The Teaching Counil wants all potential teachers (primary, I presume) to take Higher Level Mathematics in the Leaving Cert. This is only one of a number of suggested changes to the entry requirements for teacher training/B Ed programs.

I have no problem with interviews and aptitude tests to screen applicants for primary school teacher, but surely there's little need for such an emphasis on higher level math. I have a degree in Math and I love it. And it's vitally important.

I just don't see why someone who teaches children up to the age of 12 should be able to "Express μ and σ in terms of a" where "real numbers a, 2a, 3a, 4a and 5a have mean μ and standard deviation σ." (Last year's higher level Paper 2.)

I've encountered enough teachers who are challenged by 6th class math to realize that we have a problem here. However, I'm not sure this is the solution. Better to double the emphasis on math in the college course. Math understanding and math teaching (something that not everyone who is good at Math can actually do) are crucial and we need to ensure our teachers are up to it.

Maybe we should consider teachers specializing in math/science and english/irish/history from 5th class on. I had that from 4th grade (4th class).