Fears Project Maths will lead to lower standards

The new Project Maths syllabus will “leave students wholly unprepared for the study of engineering, science, and mathematics at third level”, according to a group of leading academics.

Led by Steve Kirkland, Stokes professor of mathematics at the Hamilton Institute, NUI Maynooth, the group argues Project Maths will result in a significant lowering of standards in the second-level mathematics education system and will damage the reputation of Irish universities.

It also claims Project Maths, which is being rolled out in secondary schools from September, is “completely insufficient and unsuitable by international standards to support engineering, scientific, and mathematical education at the highest level”.

In a paper entitled Major flaws in the curriculum design of Project Maths and the dire consequences for Irish mathematics education and the knowledge economy, the group argues that Project Maths in its current format will:

* Have a detrimental long- term effect on the scientific and engineering education system at all levels;

* Leave students wholly unprepared for the study of engineering, science, and mathematics at third level;

* Severely damage the reputation of our universities and institutes of technology;

* Damage Ireland’s international competitiveness;

* Fail to provide sufficiently technically capable graduates with the requisite skills and competencies to support further development of the smart or knowledge economy.

Prof Kirkland believes the problem can be addressed.

“Perhaps when it comes to second level mathematics, one size does not fit all.

“Perhaps Project Maths is suitable for those who do not intend to pursue third level studies in mathematics, or any of the sciences, or engineering. If the Project Maths curriculum goes forward unchanged, then it can be paralleled by a suite of new mathematics courses that are specifically designed for students intending to study science or engineering at third level.

“This is a common strategy in many countries, and there are plenty of successful models upon which to draw,” he said.

If this solution is not acceptable, the academics want curriculum designers to look again at the old ordinary-level and higher-level mathematics syllabi, to see how these could be improved without introducing major changes to the content balance.

Project Maths will be taught in full to first and fifth-year students from this September.

Major Flaws in Project Maths

Analysis: Dumbed down curriculum - http://exa.mn/86


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