I am kept well employed trying to undo the harm that fiddling with the maths' syllabus is doing to maths' literacy in my part of the country. The more the syllabus setters insist that the kids must be taught using "real life examples" (more practical); "more creative or entertaining" (teach three different subjects on three different days of the week so the kids don't get bored); "more accessible" (let's cut standard deviation out of the syllabus, they can tack that onto the A level stats syllabus instead) and so on, the more confused the kids seem to be.

On the old style papers, kids who weren't good with words were often able to get high marks on things like algebra because the questions weren't bogged down by the whole story of how Myfanwy and Gupta went to buy a washing machine in the sales. Now it feels like even the algebra questions are so bogged down in reams of text that even those with high reading ability have fallen asleep before they get to the end of the question, and often they do read every word, rather than skimming to find the important bits, because they are either terrified, or just haven't been taught to skim.

The stats on Monday, geometry on Wednesday and algebra on Friday model of teaching that is supposed to stop kids getting bored is instead creating a bunch of kids, so far past confused that far from being entertained they are frustrated and unable to consolidate, well anything.

By the time they get to me, the kids are convinced that maths is a black art which they will never understand. And then I (do my best to) open the door and let them see maths in its wonderful beauty. I teach maths in what would be considered an old fashioned way - number systems leading to algebra and so on, linking the threads together, rather than doing fractions, then doing probability as different topics, showing them the links between them, so instead of learning a whole new subject they're just extending what they already know into a new region. They get lots of practice questions and they lap it up! When they understand how maths works they can apply it to real life problems, but when they don't understand the problem *or* the maths they don't learn anything except that "maths is hard." It reminds me of when the powers that be decided technology teaching should be creatively led rather that skills led. Instead of a kid learning to use a lathe and then designing and making something using a lathe, they were expected to design something (with bog all knowledge of materials and their properties or what techniques could be used to shape them) and then the teacher was supposed to help "facilitate" their design. That wasn't a super frustrating situation was it? Nooooooooo! Surely it wasn't. And breathe!

Sorry, that was a bit ranty, but it makes me really angry. Maths is such a fab and interesting subject but like so many others (including music) it requires practice and rigor and good teaching to master, not a teacher trying to jump through this week's hoops to "entertain." When they can freely teach what needs to be taught then the teacher's true enthusiasm for their subject can shine.