Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
ONE OF Jamaica's leading math educators is confident that the solution to improving the country's miserable performance in mathematics lies in the teaching of basic literacy and numeracy.
Coordinator for undergraduate studies in the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus' mathematics department, Dr Samuel McDaniel, said the problems plaguing math education will continue to affect the country unless the education system is overhauled.
He said Jamaica requires children to take on too many subjects in primary schools, and this prevents them from developing their analytical and problem-solving skills, which are critical to successfully grasping mathematics.
"The current issues we have with mathematics will not be solved until we go back to basics. At the primary-school level, we should only be teaching students how to write, how to read, and how to do mathematics," McDaniel said.
Focus on main areas
He is of the view that we should be spending our resources on these three main areas, as they are critical to students' success in all the other subject areas.
McDaniel argued that if students were to read and write more, they would have no choice but to discover the other subjects and would not have to be force-fed these at an early age.
"I always use an acronym W.A.R - writing, arithmetic and reading - because if we spend our resources on those areas, our students will have more time to practise mathematics, and more time to read," the lecturer noted.
He said this would ensure that the population is at least literate and numerate at the primary level.
"If our students can read and do mathematics at this particular level, once they reach secondary level, they are now critical thinkers with reading and comprehension skills, and the foundation for mathematics to go forward."
This is a theory that McDaniel said he has tested and proven to be a fact.