Debate: Many students are facing their first defeats in math, can we start taking action there?
Head of Department, Vibemyr School Workshop, Kirkens Bymisjon Rogaland
“You don’t need to know a lot of math. The only thing we need in everyday life is the seventh grade curriculum,” Gro A. Ludvigsen wrote in Dagsavisen. It takes the courage of a math teacher and textbook author to claim this, and I want to thank her for that.
For many years I was a school principal for students who had dropped out of elementary school “mentally ashamed” and traumatized. For them, school has become an arena of defeat affecting their self-esteem, self-confidence, and belief in the future. This is not how it should be. I know very well how the teachers of the primary school, to the best of their abilities, try to facilitate these students, in the school setting. My concern is not to criticize hard-working teachers, but to suggest measures that could be useful.
In 2018 and 2019, 4% of students graduating in 10th grade had a math score of 1, while 17% got a 2. What does this mean? Imagine the story of loss and frustration behind 1st or 2nd grade after 10 years and 1,200 hours of math from ages 6 to 15. With a 2nd grade in 10th grade, you’d probably be around 5-7th grade. Class Level – This is close to what most people need in math knowledge to manage in life. But the school considers you a “loser”.
15-20% of the population have “mathematics difficulties”. Mathematics is a graduated subject, and you have to keep up with each step to pass the next. If you fall behind first, it will take a lot to catch up; Not least with math difficulties. With what we know about math difficulties, this is unfair and structural bullying. How can we allow such a waste of every fifth of a child’s motivation, talent, and belief in the future?
There is a relationship between not achieving mathematics and lowering students’ motivation in other subjects. The child learns that learning itself is associated with imminent loss and defeat. Imagine a child coming into class with only one goal: not to be seen or asked. Feel the sensation of getting a score of 1 or 2 on the test, when you have done your best: «Thank you for applying, you are really bad!!! School salute. This is the reality for every fifth child.
Let the seventh grade curriculum be enough!
Kids with math difficulties will engage in hundreds of hours where they don’t understand anything. If the child is “lucky” he reacts indifference and daydreaming and does not bother others. If the child is more unlucky, then he becomes “disturbed”, distracting and distracting others; He is described as a child suffering from “adjusting difficulties.” My experience is that students who “lose” in school develop compensatory behavior. In the classroom, this behavior can be challenging. But it is purely a survival strategy. In fact, they feel inferior and outwardly.
So how can we address this instead? What has not been tried? In mathematics, it would be difficult enough for 20 percent of students to reach seventh grade proficiency goals within 12 years. Think about what you would do to motivate the student to overcome an impossible and grueling race. Allow parents and students to choose and perhaps withdraw early so that defeat does not spread to other subjects.
What can the university and college system do to prevent “punishment” of young people with math difficulties? Today, admission to studies with little mathematical content is denied due to low math scores. There are countless educations and professions where you can do seventh grade math. A girl I know spent three years after high school in the second grade in mathematics to enter higher education. Its average in the other subjects was 4.5. We must stop this treatment of young people.
Unreal school leaders
My experience is that the school is run and run by people who don’t do much other than go to school or work in it. Good school people who appreciate and carry on what they themselves enjoyed. The school has a long and confusing history of segregating and distinguishing between the good and the less useful. There is no ‘winner’ if there is no ‘loser’ at the same time, grade 6 has little value without grade 1.
When experts have to say something about adaptive teaching in the future, no one, as far as I know, has a “loser” story on the board. The school does not have experienced counselors. Maybe they should get it? Those who lose in school neither have nor get the right to vote. They disappear, drop out, shy away, and come of age with low self-esteem and self-confidence. We view them as problematic while talking about them, but we consider them quite a bit. I think listening to these voices will give us a better school for more people.
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