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October 10, 2013

Is tech causing students to fall behind in numeracy and maths?

You can’t construct a building on a poor foundation.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) latest study of international literacy and numeracy standards makes for grim reading.

It found that British 16- to 24-year olds are among the least literate and numerate in the world.

England came 22nd out of 24 developed nations for reading skills and 21st for maths, while young people were also below the average for IT.

Even more worrying is that England was the only country where the oldest age group is more literate and numerate than the youngest.

Why are younger people performing so poorly?

Some have put the poor performance down to raising GCSE grades, the replacement of proper subjects and also the introduction of calculators at primary level maths tests.

Although I believe that such technology can enable one to be more effective at work, I do think that using a calculator at primary level does nothing to improve mental capacity, which is necessary later on in life.

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When I gave tuition in maths, I used to wonder whether or not students spent more time exercising their fingers rather than their brains at school.

It used to shock me that students would use calculators for simple computations, such as 37 minus 19.

Instead of depending on calculators for simple sums, why not strip students from calculators with the hope that they will use othwerwise neglected brain power instead.

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