I’ve spent more than enough time telling everyone that I don’t care to overshare online but the Irish Department of Education’s stance on maths has, once again, managed to grind my gears.
If you ask anyone I went to school with (national/primary school included) they’ll tell you I was a high achiever. Rarely if I ever did I get anything below 90 per cent on a times tables test, speed test, or maths test during my first eight years in the education system.
I was one of THOSE kids who ranked in that top percentile on standardised tests and, surprisingly enough, that didn’t change when I crossed the divide into secondary school. At least not initially.
This isn’t a case of blowing my own trumpet by the by, I’m setting myself up for a fall here.
When I was in second year of secondary school I became very ill: A simple dose of sinusitis – not unlike the one that has me housebound this week – spiralled into a ridiclous infection that lasted weeks. Combine illness with an earth-shattering saga that I’ve explained in detail here, and you’re looking at a whole lot of missed maths classes.
As a result of my declining physical and mental health, I completely lost confidence in my own ability and maths quickly became the bane of my life. Luckily (put that one in inverted commas) for me, I ended up never sitting the Junior Certificate, so by the time I had to face maths again I was in Transition Year.
By then, it was definitely a case of too little too late. I got my first ever bad grade and completely gave up on the subject: The teacher in question really didn’t have much time for anyone who wasn’t top notch, and had no trouble telling me “well, you’ll probably manage a B if you do Ordinary Level”.
So, that’s what I did. I didn’t even bother giving honours a go because, to be honest, I just wasn’t interested. I much preferred English, Irish, History and Geography, all of which I did rather well in. It seems that, for the Department of Eduction at least, that’s quite simply not good enough.
Let’s get one thing straight before I continue: I have absolutely no problem with maths, people who love maths, people who do well at maths, or maths teachers. What I do have a problem with is the Department’s continuous (albeit unintentional) need to make anyone who didn’t take Honours Maths feel below average.
They’d almost make you feel ashamed that despite the 520 points, First Class Honours BA and First Class Honours Masters, you still couldn’t cope with that one class.
Maybe I’m just too sensitive, but today’s suggestion that all primary school teachers should have to take Honours Maths seems to be yet another mildly insulting blow for those of us who just couldn’t get our heads around the subject. As if the existing requirement to get a high enough grade in Honours Irish wasn’t enough of a challenge.
There are thousands of incredible primary school teachers out there who didn’t take Honours Maths, and probably just as many waiting in the wings. They shouldn’t be denied their chance simply because the Department wants to make more people take certain subjects.
Oh, and as for Mr Quinn’s comments about feminine domination of the profession? Well, they speak for themselves. Hate to break it to you Ruairi, but there are more than enough Irish women who’d easily school the boys.
P.S Excuse the incoherent ranting. I blame the cough and cold.
Featured Image via Flickr Creative Commons