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Many students expressed negative comments about maths:

  • "Pointless – who really cares if X=3 or X=5, unless you want a maths-focused career."
  • "Some maths skills are important, but these are usually gained at primary, intermediate, and up to year 10."
  • "Skills are not very transferable – you can always just hire an accountant."

Other comments in similar vein were:

  • "No immediate practical use."
  • "We shouldn't have to do it if you don't choose this job when you're older."
  • "Too much theory – not practical."
  • "Teachers should teach us a different range of things to do with it."
  • "I don't like the way we do not know how to do/use maths in some situations in everyday life, for example algebra; it feels like a waste of time."
  • "Maths is taught, but what is not taught is what areas in life that particular maths is used for."

Several comments revealed that students found the subject less than stimulating:

  • "Not much creativity."
  • "Too focused on concepts."
  • "Too many numbers."
  • "Utterly confusing."
  • "Very boring; no fun."
  • "We need better teachers."

A few students were positive:

  • "Patterns – see the world differently."
  • "Applies to everyday life. Everything relates to maths."
  • "Everything is solvable. Everything has an explanation."

Some students found the fact that there is one answer, right or wrong, as positive; others frustrating. One intermediate boy said: "I love this subject if I know how to do something." Another cautioned: "Calculators make you lazy. You shouldn't get used to them doing all your work for you."

One intermediate student wanted greater challenge: "I think maths should be more advanced and harder; it's becoming easier and shorter. We need to be taught different things that older students learn."

Logic featured strongly in the responses to what students felt they learn from maths. Other answers were:

  • "Methodical thinking"
  • "Designing and scale"
  • "Problem solving"
  • "How not to get ripped off when shopping"
  • "Budgeting"
  • "Life skills"

Published on: 20 Sep 2007