The OECD report (RTE.ie, April 1st) presents Irish teens as being ranked 22nd compared to 15-year-olds in 44 countries in this fifth volume of PISA 2012 results. The report presents an assessment of student performance in creative problem solving. The Irish teens came 17th out of 28 when non-OECD countries were excluded.
These results should come as no surprise as they reflect the damage and legacy of rote learning in Irish schools over the last two generations. Minister Quinn’s reforms will surely have a positive impact on these figures in the years to come, however the impact of our educational system is very evident for all to see in this report, and underlines the challenge that lays ahead for our young teenagers.
The impact of rote learning in our educational system is reflected in the dire straits the country finds itself in, where many of our politicians and business leaders, themselves products of our rote learning culture, forged a path to national bankruptcy through a heady mixture of greed, incompetence, corruption and stupidity where our regulators and civil servants didn’t have the wherewithal or confidence in their own judgement of the numbers to be in a position to critically analyse and question government policies and business development, especially in property and finance.
Our country’s future depends on our school leavers being creative and critical thinkers while ‘mathematical fluency’, a phrase coined here at the Connemara Maths Academy, is paramount to ensure we produce such people. The business leaders and politicians of the future need to be maths fluent and need to be able to comprehend and appreciate patterns of behaviour in order to have at least some idea what impact their policies and development plans will have on our children and their children, and ultimately on the security and well being of our country.
Not unlike Climate Change, we need to address these issues promptly and with vigour. The reforms being undertaken by Minister Quinn will go a long way in helping us achieve the right environment for such creative and maths fluency growth, however, as always, it cannot happen without the support and dedication of our excellent teachers and parents.
Being average at creative problem solving will not suffice, and while there is a long way to go, the educational reforms being undertaken presently in Ireland have helped us begin on this journey.
At CMA, we encourage creativity, problem solving and educated risk taking through maths fluency in a variety of teaching and learning methodologies including technologies and adventure activities, so that students may become fluent in the key mathematical concepts and free themselves of the shackles of rote learning.
Have a look: http://youtu.be/eHWy5zkuJ7Y
Aengus O’Connor, Director