To any student preparing for the Leaving Cert exam 2012, you’ve heard the term “Project Maths” bandied about quite a lot recently. It’s in the newspaper from time to time, where teachers complain about the new syllabus and deem it ridiculous, and no doubt you’re hearing it coming in the form of the shrill voice of your stressed Maths teacher every other day.
Simply put, Project Maths is a new Maths syllabus that has been devised by “experts” that promotes modern teaching techniques, and is supposed to focus on problem solving as opposed to the traditional method of rote learning. The system is in an attempt to stop the ever declining numeracy rates in Ireland, something which has been worrying educators for quite some time; it seems that every year, things get worse, more and more people are failing ordinary and higher level maths in the Leaving Cert. It’s a natural progression to try to combat this in any way possible.
But is Project Maths all it’s cracked up to be? The simple answer is no. The new course takes very little facts into account. They have foolishly narrowed down the options available in Paper 2, believing that getting rid of choice will somehow increase student’s knowledge on the topic. But how is this possible? Look at English, for example: There are options year in year out. Students can choose what single text they write about, what three texts they write about for their Comparitive Study, and you can even choose what poet you want to discuss. The same thing applies to every subject at Leaving Cert level. Maths is now out there by itself, denying people choice on what they answer on.
But what really gets me big style about this entire new course, this entire new syllabus, is the somewhat ridiculous idea that some big shot in the Department of Education has dreamt up – that Higher Level students should automatically be awarded 25 extra points in their Leaving Cert for acquiring a pass (i.e. a grade D3 or higher). To me, this is completely and utterly unfair. This was in some strange vain effort to increase the amount of students taking Higher Level. But what does this mean? It means that students who have a stronger left side of their brain than the right are rewarded.
Personally, I’m dreadful at Maths. It’s not something that bothers me. I openly abhor the subject, and I don’t see any point whatsoever in even making seventeen to eighteen year olds study it. So for the likes of me, I am immediately at a disadvantage. Why is Maths the only subject with special points being awarded? Take History at Leaving Cert level for example; it’s generally accepted that it is one of the more difficult subjects to do, as it combines the essay writing skills of the student as well as their actual knowledge of the historical era. Are they awarded any extra points? Of course not. And what about French, German, Italian and Spanish students? They have to spend five years attempting to get a basic understanding of the language in very few classes a week – a feat that is almost impossible. Are they awarded? No, of course not. Because obviously it’s more important in life that you be able to do complex geometry than it is that you know about your own country’s history, or that you know a foreign language.
Speak to the hand, education system, cause the face simply ain’t listening!