Sunday 18 March 2018

Students' ignorance of basic maths is sum of all our fears

A new book aims to teach crucial maths concepts that our school system fails to address, writes Andrew McKimm

LAST week Ireland's educational image took another battering in the Performance International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009, a three-yearly global league table from the OECD. Ireland's scores in maths dipped since the last survey, from 16th to 25th among the 34 OECD countries.

Our country's plummeting aptitude with numbers not only permeates our school system right up to university level, but also is apparent in Government circles. Last week's Budget could be seen as a consequence of a government with a history of being either unable or unwilling to do some basic arithmetic.

Maybe it's time for all of our school maths textbooks to have their examples updated. Instead of problems involving euro and cent, we'll have ones involving billions of euro. Problems like: "What's the compound interest on €85bn over seven-and-a-half years at 5.83 per cent interest?" Or how about: "Brian buys a bank for €1bn and sells it for 6 cent. Calculate the percentage loss."

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