The brand new revised and updated edition of THE ELEPHANT IN THE CLASSROOM challenges the current damaging stereotypes of the way mathematics is taught and how pupils learn mathematics. Its publication comes at a critical time in maths education, where something needs to be done to address the worrying lack of maths skills in the UK.
It is widely known that scientific and mathematical thinking are essential tools for everyday life, and a recent poll taken by the CfBT Education Trust found that 80% of business leaders questioned said they need employers with practical maths skills (ITV NEWS). However, with most children in Britain dropping the subject at 16, there is a serious shortage of young professionals with basic maths skills.
As reported in The Times only last month, “Britain has been falling behind other nations worldwide, and failed to make the top 20 for maths in the most recent international tests taken by 15-year-old pupils.”
“The message is clear. We need more young people to stick with maths and to make that happen we need to make maths more interesting and relevant to them. Employers put a premium on the maths skills of their workforce, whether they are trying to tap the potential of big data, part of the growing digital economy or getting a start-up company off the ground.”
It is precisely these problems that Jo Boaler attempts to solve in this new edition of THE ELEPHANT IN THE CLASSROOM. Drawing on new scientific research, developed in conjunction with Carol Dweck, it shows how maths mindsets can unleash a pupil’s potential through creative and innovative teaching.
“Mathematics, more than any other subject, has the power to crush students’ confidence. The reasons are related both to the teaching methods that prevail in maths classrooms and the fixed ideas about mathematics held by the majority of the UK population and passed onto our children from birth. One of the most damaging mathematics myths propagated in classrooms and homes is that maths is a gift, that some people are naturally good at maths and some are not. This idea is strangely cherished in the Western world but virtually absent in Eastern countries such as China and Japan that top the world in mathematics achievement.”
“We need to bring real maths into maths classrooms and children’s lives, instead of the fake version that goes on in many maths classrooms, and we must treat this as a matter of urgency.” –Jo Boaler*
THE ELEPHANT IN THE CLASSROOM demonstrates how teachers and parents can give children this growth mindset, and shares a host of practical teaching activities, strategies and questions that can transform a child’s mathematical future.
Do you have memories of your maths lessons? Maths skills a little rusty? If you want to test them, try this quick 10-question quiz designed by Carol Vorderman, appropriate for children in Years 1-6. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/602772/Carol-Vorderman-maths-genius-quiz-test-skills-mathematics-The-maths-Factor. Incredibly, the average score was just 5.1 out of 10 amongst adults in the UK.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE CLASSROOM by Jo Boaler is out today (Thursday 17th September) in paperback (ISBN: 978-0285643185) and eBook (ISBN: 9780285643192), £12.99.
*Extracts taken from the Preface and the Introduction to THE ELEPHANT IN THE CLASSROOM.