Adding to the knowledge of sums

I hold these truths to be self-evident.

  1. Set aside SATs, GCSEs and A-levels for a moment. Just for the simplicity of living in this world a working knowledge of Mathematics is essential.
  2. For the avoidance of doubt ‘working knowledge” includes knowing your times tables, knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. It includes knowing how to work out percentages.It means knowing how to work out how much carpet I need to buy to cover my living room floor, how many pots of paint I need to point the walls and how much that might all cost and where it is cheaper to buy it. It includes working out where my holiday currency is cheaper to buy and what time I have to get up in order to get to the airport in time to check in. All stuff like that. Plus some other stuff.
  3. It’s a basic human right to be able to calculate what your net pay is. Can you?
  4. A person who can’t teach these things to children without specific cognitive impairments which prevent them from learning them isn’t the maths teacher they need (there should probably be some commas or shit in that sentence but I haven’t got time to work out where).
  5. There’s nothing wrong with learning things by rote.
  6. There’s nothing wrong with learning times tables by chanting them. I know, because that’s how I learnt them. I turned out ok. There are other ways to learn them as well.
  7. Testing that children have learnt what they’ve been taught is not child abuse.
  8. Speaking of abuse, the Peoples Republic of China is one of the most violently oppressive totalitarian states to have ever existed on this planet.
  9. Like all totalitarian states the PRC is obsessed with its image. Anyone who believes that the PRC wouldn’t do anything possible to ensure that PISA results showed them in a good light doesn’t understand the PRC.
  10. Until they stop killing people for having children, or speaking out of turn, the PRC, its methods and its PISA ranking can do one.
  11. Anyone who thinks you can take one part of a pedagogy and splice it onto an existing system, thus transforming the existing system into the one you’ve spliced it from, is an idiot. Frankenstein tried that with people and look what he created.
  12. Mastery is the new man for all seasons. The description I was sent to as the best summary of what mastery is contained the word mastery in its description of mastery. It seemed to imply that you should learn stuff until you know it and know how to use it. So nothing new then. I might have misunderstood.
  13. Pig farmers aren’t stupid. They weigh their pigs. Then they know how much and what to feed them.



2 thoughts on “Adding to the knowledge of sums

  1. I agree with most of your sentiments here, but maybe in not quite the such string words. My related thoughts are posted here:

    I don’t have enough historical knowledge, but my hunch is that 8 is an overstatement. I don’t see the point in refusing to interact with countries that have lower standards of human rights than we do. Do you refuse to use anything that is “Made in China”? Would be very difficult to do in practice.

    1. Not an overstatement, not by a long way.

      There is a difference in refusing to interact and refusing to be taken in by their propaganda.

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