How dropping maths as a compulsory subject will harm SA

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brianvds (July 11, 2017, 12:11:06 PM):

How dropping maths as a compulsory subject will harm SA

http://www.iol.co.za/the-star/news/how-dropping-maths-as-a-compulsory-subject-will-harm-sa-10230992


This makes me think of a scene in the movie Amadeus. Mozart learns from Salieri that some so-and-so has been chosen by the emperor as music teacher to his niece. Mozart is outraged: "But that could do actual harm to her musical development!" he shouts.
"Trust me," says Salieri. "Nothing in the world could possibly do any harm to her musical development."
Mozartean giggles ensue.

And thus it is now with our public education system. Nothing in the world can harm it anymore. You cannot damage a building that has already been demolished.

I think I know what they are on about. The issue is very simple: if you keep standards, then huge numbers of students fail, thus leading to clogged-up classes, where grade twos ranging in age from eight to seventeen sit, 120 of them in a class. Thus, you pass most, and they flow through the system, and seeing as they are illiterate anyway, what does it matter whether you required math as subject or not? Replacing the entire syllabus with one designed by Ken Ham would not make any difference at this stage.

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According to Balfour, pupils in grades 7-9 cannot know already whether they wish to pursue a career in maths or not, and this would in turn create a situation where, should the pupils decide to pursue maths, they would not be able to do so.


Trust me, Prof. Balfour, the chances that a kid who gets 30% for grade 9 maths is suddenly going to realize in matric that he wants to be an engineer are pretty slim. And if he does realize it then? What are the chances that he could make it anyway? He probably can't read either.

I don't know if this holds true for all humans, but my personal experience with kids in South Africa is that most of them quite simply do not have the ability to ever understand maths at matric level. In fact, I have only by very rare exception met anyone, including people with matric math, that could do simple applications of grade seven maths (e.g. work out how much water you can collect from a roof, given the roof's dimensions and the rainfall). We might as well stop wasting their time.

The real problem here is that, perhaps partly due to promises made by liberation movements and now the governing party, kids' ambitions and dreams far exceed their abilities and/or work ethic. Perhaps that is what we should work on then. Unfortunately, only parents can really do much about that. How many of us ever paid any heed to a word our teachers said to us? :-)
Spike (July 11, 2017, 14:02:14 PM):
And thus it is now with our public education system. Nothing in the world can harm it anymore. You cannot damage a building that has already been demolished.

Sadly, ‘tis true.

The issue is very simple: if you keep standards, then huge numbers of students fail, thus leading to clogged-up classes, where grade twos ranging in age from eight to seventeen sit, 120 of them in a class. Thus, you pass most, and they flow through the system
They certainly view the flow as more important than the quality of education. By the time the chickens come to roost the perpetrators will be out of the picture. Just another example of how the government has no concern for the needs of the citizens.

Pupils in grades 7-9 cannot know already whether they wish to pursue a career in maths or not, and this would in turn create a situation where, should the pupils decide to pursue maths, they would not be able to do so.

Even if they do know what they want to become, it is almost certain they will only find out about the building blocks of education when it is much too late. Children do not usually understand that certain subjects are interdependent. I know I had no idea. I just had the good advice to do all the science & maths I had access to.

Today, most parents aren’t even aware of the importance of maths. We’ve already lost that battle.

I don't know if this holds true for all humans, but my personal experience with kids in South Africa is that most of them quite simply do not have the ability to ever understand maths at matric level. In fact, I have only by very rare exception met anyone, including people with matric math, that could do simple applications of grade seven maths (e.g. work out how much water you can collect from a roof, given the roof's dimensions and the rainfall). We might as well stop wasting their time.

I disagree completely. I can use my own ‘abilities’ as an example. My old school report cards are proof. When I had a great math teacher, someone who captivated me, I aced. When I had a boring or poor teacher I got very average marks, and increasingly struggled as I got older despite my extremely high aptitude (tested).

The reason for this rough ride became clear more than 30 years later when I was diagnosed with ADHD. When I was interested, I excelled. When I was bored, I read or daydreamed in class. Homework was something that happened to other people.

Result – I made it HG because I wanted to go to University (although I did not know what I wanted to study until the year after matric and then changed direction anyway – ADHD anyone?). If I had not been aware of the HG requirement for University, I would happily have dropped maths even before school.

The answer is 'teachers' and 'parental involvement'. But, again, we've already lost that battle.
BoogieMonster (July 11, 2017, 16:16:28 PM):
Ever meet an old farmer? What about a Welder? Mechanic?

There are people who are not smart. They were never smart, not even in the good old days. My grandfather was a farmer, his dad took him out of school early because he'd "learned enough" and put him to work. My granddad never had matric, and never needed it.

I think the thing that has changed is not the people, it's the demands. Somewhere between when my dad graduated high-school and when I did, the labor market had shifted significantly and suddenly a university education would be the only thing that would "guarantee" you a "professional" career... Matric had become almost a formality for anyone "serious" about a career.

We're expecting today that at least everyone have a matric as a bare minimum to functioning in society. And in a lot of ways that's absolutely true, in fact more and more that's not even enough. The intellectual requirements of the modern world have steadily increased.... But people haven't really changed, and we seem in denial about this. I think yes, some people just do not have the aptitude, but there are also deep cultural barriers that need to move and those things tend to move glacially.

Thing is, in the past these people had stuff to do, but automation is steadily eroding any chance that they had at productive lives. THIS is why now, suddenly, something like this is anathema to social progress. Going about our education system like this is certainly accelerating the process, but the end result I really fear is going to be the same. Uneducated, Uneducatable, even "average IQ" people have an enormous economic sledgehammer headed their way, and I think the impact is going to get redirected at the educated "wealthy".



brianvds (July 12, 2017, 04:20:51 AM):
Thing is, in the past these people had stuff to do, but automation is steadily eroding any chance that they had at productive lives. THIS is why now, suddenly, something like this is anathema to social progress. Going about our education system like this is certainly accelerating the process, but the end result I really fear is going to be the same. Uneducated, Uneducatable, even "average IQ" people have an enormous economic sledgehammer headed their way, and I think the impact is going to get redirected at the educated "wealthy".

Also known as "white monopoly capital." So much then for the naive dream that technology would "free us from backbreaking labour" so that we could spend our time on higher pursuits. Most people are not capable of doing that.

Looks like we'll have to throw around more bread and circuses then... :-)
Spike (July 12, 2017, 08:40:24 AM):
If I had the money I would drop several hundred computers with internet connections into schools. Block all social media, torrenting sites, some of the more lurid fake news and sensationalist sites - and youtube - and force them to surf every day for a minimum of 2 hours.

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