[Maths-Education] The resource for the course

Celia Hoyles choyles@ioe.ac.uk
Sun, 23 Sep 2001 08:51:01 +0100

Briefly may I whole-heartedly agree with Tony Ralston
Through the Jont Mathematical Council that involves Maths ed and=20
mathematician (and many more) we are united in our concerns about=20
testing -- and have indeed made representations to the Government on=20
this point
Now to date we have had rather little success I must admit -- but if=20
we can set up this Advisory Committee in Maths Ed which we hope to do=20
rather soon this will be one of the first items of our agenda for=20
discussion at the Department.

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> > Romulo Lins asks:
> >
> > "Why didn't British educationalists (teachers and
> > researchers and developers) resist the National Curriculum, with its
> > associated testing system, and remained with the previous, locally
> > based, assessment system?"
>I have followed the recent discussion on testing with much interest.
>I am willing to accept that it is the case that it is possible to make
>students mathematical thinkers and still prepare them for standardized
>national tests.
>But will those of you who so argue agree that, while possible, it just will
>not happen in the vast majority of mathematics classrooms where even good
>teachers under pressure will inevitably "teach to the test"?
>Romulo Lins' question, at least insofar as it addresses testing, seems to m=
>a good one.  I reason as follows:
>1.  In the U.S., where I am fairly heavily involved in the "mathed" list,
>the so-called "math wars" make the fight against standardised testing almos=
>impossible to win since it pits (mainly) math educators against (mainly)
>research mathematicians with the latter being very influential due to their
>generally high stature.
>2.  But as I perceive the situation in Britain (perhaps still murkily
>although I have now lived here for 6 1/2 years), the outlook is not so
>bleak.  I would think - no doubt I'll be speedily corrected if I'm wrong -
>that the university math education establishment, as well as most teachers,
>generally thinks, as I do, that standardised tests short of GCSEs and
>A-levels have no (anyhow: few) redeeming features.  In addition to not bein=
>effective in raising standards (probably they lower them), they
>deprofessionalise teachers by telling them they are not capable of assessin=
>their students themselves.
>3.  If the above is not too far off the mark, then better than trying to
>ameliorate the bad effects of testing (in which, sadly, you will probably
>fail), you would be better advised to present a united front (of course, I
>don't mean 100%) to the government requesting the cessation of these exams.
> I am not so naive as to think that this would or could be successful any
>time soon but, in the long run, it is the only way forward.  I appears to m=
>to be the case that the research mathematics community in Britain is neithe=
>so well-organised nor so antediluvian on the subject of math education as i=
>the U.S. and so you would not have the same level of opposition as in the
>Tony Ralston
>Anthony Ralston
>Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Mathematics
>SUNY at Buffalo
>Academic Visitor
>Department of Computing
>Imperial College, London
>email: ar9@doc.ic.ac.uk
>phone and fax: (020) 7589 2195
>Home Page: www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~ar9
>Mailing address:  Flat 4
>                           58 Prince Consort Road
>                           London SW7 2BA
>An international directory of mathematics educators is available on=20
>the web at www.nottingham.ac.uk/csme/directory/main.html
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