söndag 1 november 2009

The Swedish Model of Mathematics Enlightenment

Le Monde states on Oct 10 in an article on the need of enlightened citizens, with some envy:
  • La Suède a en effet entrepris une réforme d'ampleur de l'enseignement des mathématiques, soutenue au plus haut niveau politique. L'un des premiers axes a été de travailler à une représentation plus claire du rôle des mathématiques dans la vie quotidienne et professionnelle. Là encore, il s'agit de modifier les représentations traditionnelles. Les Suédois veulent montrer à leurs enfants que les maths se nichent partout. La production de raisonnements abstraits est une part importante de l'activité mathématique, mais elle doit venir en son temps.
In short in English:
  • Sweden has from the highest political level launched a campaign with the objective of convincing the Swedish people that the abstract reasoning of mathematics enters everywhere in both professional and everyday life. 
This must be the € 50 miljon campaign by Swedish School Minister Jan Björklund focussed on correcting certain systematic errors propagated in Swedish mathematics education including computations like 51 - 49 = 18 based on 5-4=1 och 9-1=8.  

Evidently, the Swedish mathematics enlightenment campaign gives resonance in France, and thus is yet another example of the success of the Swedish education model...

Le Monde refers to the CIEP 51 The Changing World of Scientific Teaching asking for a reformation of scientific education away from formalism and elitism towards constructive learning by doing. This is what I try to convey to Teknikdelegationen formed by the Swedish Government with the objective of increasing the interest in science and science education, but the delegation does not seem to be willing to listen... 

However, next week I will meet with the Swedish Ministry of Education and so the discussion is not closed...the Lucia march towards enlightenment is coming up on Dec 13...

If in Sweden it is believed that mathematics will enlighten people, in the enlightened France the discussion also points in the other direction: Eric Charbonnier, economist and educational expert OECD states in a Le Monde interview:
  • mathematics education in France has more hours of instruction than in any other OECD country
  • french students who do not succeed well in mathematics get the unfortunate impression that they cannot succeed in any other subject either 
  • to study languages, arts or journalism at university it is in France necessary to pass filters of mathematics tests
  • in short: more foreign languages and less math.
In other words, in France where mathematics dominates the educational system as no-where
else, it is increasingly becoming understood that enlightenment does not necessarily come through studies of mathematics. Maybe it is not necessary to force all citizen through 12 years of school mathematics. Maybe it is even counter-productive since it gives the wrong signal to most students. Maybe it destroys the possiblitites for the 10-30% of the students who are interested in mathematics to develop their interest and capabilities, since trivialization in math-for-everybody is unavoidable.

Maybe Sweden should look to France, instead of the opposite...because trivalization is the syndrome of Swedish math education...

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar