Is there a crisis in maths education

Brendan Goldsmith, Professor at Dublin Institute of Technology has written an interesting article about the crisis in maths education in Ireland. This article was published under the “Opinion” section of Trinity The introduction deals with what a Dublin paper referred to as a crisis, where more than 20 percent of the students had failed mathematics when the “Leaving Certificate” results were published. A quick review of Professor Goldsmith revealed that the crisis was more severe on the newspaper’s side:

A quick read revealed that it wasn’t. The correct failure rate was 10.2 percent, but the error made by the journalist, and presumably approved by the editor, was perhaps more revealing about the true position of mathematics nationally. They reasoned that since 4.5 percent of students had failed the higher level paper, 5.7 percent had failed the foundation level and 12.3 percent had failed the ordinary level paper, it must follow that 4.5 + 5.7 + 12.3 = 22.5 percent of students had failed mathematics. The enormity of such an error and its ability to reach the front page illustrates clearly that many of us are functionally innumerate.

The article further gives a nice insight into the situation for mathematics education in Ireland, and although it is more of a news article than a scientific paper, it might be worth reading.

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