David Robert Grimes points out that mathematics is of fundamental importance, a claim which I would have thought was uncontroversial in this high tech age, but apparently it’s not.
There is still a self-perpetuating apprehension about mathematics, and an attitude of contempt that must be overcome. The comment by Sheila Nunan, the general secretary of the INTO, that “it was the boys who did the honours maths led the country to ruination” borders on the profoundly anti-intellectual, and such sentiments are counterproductive to improving our national numeracy problem.
Ireland however seems to have other ideas of what’s important.
It is a damning testament to our skewed priorities that until now we have insisted primary teachers have honours Irish but showed little concern about their mathematical confidence. That we place more value on a minority language than on the language of the universe reeks of misplaced nationalism. Similarly, that we devote 30 per cent of primary teaching time to Irish and religion while our basic literacy and numeracy struggle should raise alarm bells.
Irish and religion, 30% – in primary school. That does seem highly perverse. Nationalism is not one of humanity’s better ideas, and religion is a kind of nationalism of god.