But let’s stop before we jump on the band wagon and maybe try to deflect blame onto politicians or teachers or anyone else but ourselves.
There was an interesting comment made recently that negative remarks made about maths by parents in front of their children was partially to blame. I watched a feature on this on the BBC and the father in question had his children sitting behind him whilst chatting to the interviewer. The children were playing on a huge touchscreen computer and appeared to be not very focused or engaged on whatever it was they were doing. The body language strongly suggested to me aimless filling in of time and it did not appear to be giving the children much pleasure either.
I just wonder if that readiness to abandon the child to the mercies of a screen is symptomatic of the attitude that abounds. By making negative remarks about maths in front of children, adults are reinforcing stereotypical images which can and clearly do stop a child from putting in enough effort. If the responsible adult gives in to the majority view, presumably whilst able to see the value of maths skills, what a glorious opportunity to motivate the child is lost.
I know from my own experience of learning maths what a challenge is involved and I fully recognise the size of the task. But equally I also know, and this is backed up from my experience in the world of business, that taking responsibility is what makes all the difference. Parents must not only refrain from running down the study of maths – they probably need to do a refresher course themselves before throwing themselves into the job of motivating their children to learn.
There have been examples of parents learning signing skills to communicate with a deaf child and I have heard of some spreading that skill around the NHS to benefit others. Granted, this is an extreme example but to me it illustrates what single-minded determination can achieve.
A child can still communicate with his or her friends if deficient in maths but what about holding down a job in the quicksand of today’s viciously competitive world? A parent or a business leader has a fabulous opportunity to foster skills irrespective of whether they excel themselves. Don’t waste that chance – take control and do the job!