So, Aussie primary and secondary students are falling behind some of their international peers in practical mathematical problem-solving, eh? Who would have guessed?
The revelations this week that, according to an OECD assessment (based on the performances of a sample of 85,000 students in 44 countries), Australian students were ranked 9th, shouldn’t surprise any of us. Yes, we were well behind such countries as Singapore, South Korea, Japan China, Taiwan and Canada. Interestingly, and thankfully, Australian students fared better than those in Finland, Britain and the USA, among others!
What does all this mean? Maybe the powers that be will simply dismiss these results as an aberration. No need to address a problem that doesn’t exist, could be one anticipated response (or lack of!!).
Or maybe it could be accepted as an indicator — albeit an unwelcome one — that there are some areas of the Australian maths curriculum that could (should?) be looked at again, with a view to possible change.
Or, unlikely as this may be, the Australian Government, and/or the State Governments, could, as a result, look at the whole area of worded problem-solving in maths, with a view to positively, intentionally addressing the issues associated with the reading of a worded maths problem, the translation of the problem into a mathematical algorithm, all hopefully leading to ultimate solution.
We at Edshop.net.au have long been aware of this area of mathematical weakness in many schools: our products are one attempt to address these needs.
But, in reality, this problem MUST be addressed by our friends in Government. It would cost no more money to instruct teachers to TEACH problem-solving, and to empower them to do so by providing practical, worthwhile materials and resources to “deliver the goods”, and to make suitable curriculum time available in which to do so.
After all, this area of maths is potentially one of the most interesting, and most relevant, areas of the maths area for each of us.
We ALL need to acquire the skills associated with Maths Problem Solving.
Don’t you agree?