Trouble With Numbers

Once again, numeracy levels in the country are a talking point.

According to The Telegraph, ‘around 17 million adults in England are at the equivalent of primary level maths, and it is claimed that these poor math skills could be costing the UK economy more than £20 billion a year’.

So, what can be done to tackle this problem?


Professor Jo Boaler, author of ‘The Elephant in the Classroom’, spent three years studying how maths is taught our schools. She believes that children are scared of making mistakes thanks to the ‘performance culture’ we have constructed. Unfortunately, as the age-old saying goes, ‘you only learn from your mistakes’.

Gender inequality (currently two in three A-Level maths students are male) and its ‘boring’ stigma are also contributions to the country’s fear of the subject.

The topic is raised in ITV’s Tonight programme, which you can watch on ITV Player. Alternatively, catch Prof Boaler on BBC Radio 4 talking about ‘maths brain’.

To learn more about Prof Boaler’s theories and how we can improve numeracy in the UK, see The Elephant in the Classroom – a straightforward and inspiring book that addresses the nature of the problem, showing how we can turn the perception of maths around and enjoy the creative and interesting subject it really is.

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