Jiva Technology

Is the UK Chancellor a Jiva Blog Reader?

Who knew that the UK Chancellor was such an avid reader of the Jiva blog? A matter of days after publishing a blog post reiterating the importance of maths, Chancellor Philip Hammond stands up in the UK Parliament and tells the country, “maths matters”. Whats more, Mr Hammond has backed up his words with cash. Schools get an £600 for every  pupil who sits A Level maths and teachers in certain areas will get an extra £1,000 towards professional development. Its all good stuff and naturally, the folks at Jiva will claim the credit for the government’s actions. Now all we need to see is a bit more action further down the school years, at primary level. If we’re going to have more people capable of passing maths A level, we need more encouragement in the early years. Its unlikely that a 16 yo who’s had little encouragement to enjoy Maths is suddenly going to be enthused when the school suggests it for A level. But thats a conversation for another day, lets be thankful for small mercies.

“I don’t do maths”

As a self confessed lover of Maths, I’ve never understood the ambivalence or outright hostility aroused by my favourite subject. And whilst I can’t support this with any hard evidence, it feels as though the situation is getting worse. People are running up the white flag before they’ve even started. I see too many parents smiling and saying, “I don’t do maths” and hear of too many teachers who haven’t been trained in maths who’ve been asked to step in at the critical early stages because there isn’t a trained maths teacher at hand. Some of our kids are literally taught that this is a subject you should fear. So why is this a problem? Its a problem for a simple reason: our whole society is built on a foundation of maths. Our banking and finance are based on maths, our tools and technology are based on maths our medicine and health is based on maths, business is based on maths, the internet is based on maths, government communication is based on maths. The future is based on maths. As Apollo 13 famously said, “Houston, we have a problem”. And we have a problem because the maths our society is based on is not complicated maths. Sure, they’ll be some of the tougher stuff in there, but the basics can take you a long way. Which means we have to start encouraging people to get a basic grasp of the most basic of subjects.

The first hour of the first day of the new school year shouldn’t be for the kids, it should be for the parents. Every head teacher should stand up and remind the parents of their duty to support and encourage their kids to learn maths at their own pace. And they should be reminded at every parents evening. Maths isn’t for the techies and the scientists and the engineers. Its for everyone. All the time.

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