A successful maths programme for children
For me the purpose of schooling is to allow children to demonstrate success, and to take learners to places where they are unlikely to travel alone. Many schools are successful in providing children with these opportunities but they have to work against a long-lasting Anglo-Saxon obsession. Historically, British culture and the British education system has always been obsessed with ranking children in order to identify those who have failed in some way. There is a deeprooted cultural desire to see some children as successful and the rest as unsuccessful. Some years ago, children were ranked by ‘intelligence’ tests based on spurious scientific claims. Today, they are ranked by ‘levels’: the obsession continues. The ranking of children by levels offers them no better education today than ranking them by intelligence did in the 1940s and 1950s. It is the teaching and not the assessment system that raises standards of performance, understanding and motivation. Being given a performance ranking against one’s peers is always based on partial information, never takes future performance into account, discourages motivation, and reduces emotional and intellectual resilience in many children. Let me be clear, evaluation of the teaching and learning process is essential, but the public ranking of children is an educational embarrassment.