Project Maths and the Search for Reason

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!


3 comments on “Project Maths and the Search for Reason

  1. wow patrick this is really cool, i agree completely. even higher level maths teachers tend to have this arrogance about them. the higher level maths students (the whole 5 of them which exist in most lc classes) tend to be arrogant also, thinking that because they are in the minority of this ‘intelligence’, they are therefore more intelligent than the rest of us. but where are the students who did higher level maths in lc now? they’re not commenting on this blog, using their own minds to think about stuff, and most of them haven’t used the skills they used in lc to solve some worldwide problem since, have they?
    bottom line, lc maths is useless information that no one needs, it’s a load of shite how it’s even on the syllabus and they’ve been on about changing this for years now, but i doubt they ever will, not in this neglectful country!
    good work bro. x

  2. umm im in higher level maths and well while i agree with some points, i still do find this kinda insulting sorry, i agree that the extra points is a bit unfair but it was the only way they had of getting numbers taking the class up, along with that, while most do hate maths, it is an important subject, if it werent for maths, most of your general history would never have happened. mankind would never have figured out how to create. maths is needed to work computers, build and guarantee the function of every form of technology we have and even to predict the rhythm of life, the universe and everything in it (though this is more of the physics end, much harder than maths). in terms of after school jobs, if you want to go into ICT, computer graphics or any engineering career, maths is essential and higher level is preferred(though in my opinion, if you can count u can learn on the job instead).

    and um aisling, im sure u know me, please do consider me separate from the rest of those higher level students, clearly i dont consider myself above others, im capable of using my mind and being creative + some of them students have used their skills to solve worldwide problems (or atleast a currently trying, governments reluctant to fund or help does always prove an issue), the upgrading of the new GPS systems (by use of new mathematics equation) have lead to a better system being used by maritime security and sea search and rescue. the very same maths is being used to develop new computer diagnostic systems for medicine which are leading to quicker discoveries of health issues and leading to quicker treatment.

    thanks any ways and as always a good post,
    sincerely Paul Brennan

    • Wow Paul, thanks very much for your comment, however I feel that you’ve misinterpreted a lot of what I had to say. I feel that Maths is very important to working life and life from day to day. But what I do disagree with is the pointless crap we have rammed down our throats day in day out. Most of the stuff is simply unnecessary. And while I see your point about this kind of maths being necessary for some jobs in ICT, Engineering etc, I also must point out that not everyone wants to be a computer technician or an engineer – so why are other students forced to learn the same material? My point is that Higher Level Maths students are being favoured for a particular kind of intelligence that they were born with, and other students are ignored for the same achievements in other areas. Although, thanks very much for your comment, I really appreciate you reading it, and you I love a good debate! 🙂

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