This morning I also attended a talk from the Chief Examiner of Leaving Certifiate Maths, Tom O’Connor. The purpose of me attending the talks was to establish what the current leaving certificate maths curriculum entails and perhaps get ideas from it for topics in a workshop or topics of discussion in a focus group among teachers and students.
Tom discussed what the State Examinations Commission do, what his job is and what the current leaving cert maths curriculum is about. He discussed why it was changed, it’s benefits and the changes in the marking scheme. A good aspect of the new curriculum is that students are expected to show an understanding of the formulas they are using rather than just being given the formulas to use.
Before attending the meeting, I was hoping to get more from it but it was interesting to hear the open debate that took place afterwards between teachers and lecturers. Algebra is clear to be a major issue amongst students so the suggestion of introducing it into primary school was mentioned. It was also interesting to find out not that if a student receives 30-40% in their higher cert leaving cert paper, they will still receive 37 points even though below 40% is usually classed as a fail.
There was also a discussion about the over-reliance on the use of the calculator and the fact that they are more like mini-computers now. They have recently been introduced into primary schools but it was noted that they were not being used for their intended use which it to check if something is right.