Agency slams Swedish maths teaching
Published: 19 Oct 2010 10:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Oct 2010 10:39 GMT+02:00
The teaching of mathematics in Swedish high schools (gymnasium) has been broadly criticised by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) in a new report published on Tuesday.
"Many high school students are not given opportunities to really understand mathematics. They thus risk losing the necessary skills for a future career and life in society," the inspectorate said in a statement on the report.
The inspectorate has studied and assessed the teaching of mathematics at 55 high schools in Sweden and concluded that the overall standard is below par.
"Most of the 150 classes which we attended are dedicated for the most part to the mechanics of calculation. Teaching which trains problem solving and mathematical creativity took a back seat," said Monica Gillenius at the inspectorate.
The study looked at whether teachers at Sweden's high schools follow the national curriculum, finding that many students are not taught the full spectrum of maths, receiving instruction in only limited areas of the specified course.
The main conclusions detailed in the report are that many teachers lack sufficient knowledge of the curriculum, they make classes unnecessarily complicated for students who are not sufficiently challenged, and that results differ considerably between school tests and national examinations.
Furthermore the report concludes that many pupils feel under-stimulated and think that maths is boring.
The results of the survey have been compiled into a comprehensive report, with each school receiving demands and recommendations to improve.
"In order for all pupils to receive the education that they are entitled to, a focused and vigorous development in virtually all the examined schools is required," the inspectorate concluded.
The Local reported in December 2009 that the performance of Swedish high school students in maths and physics had declined considerably in the last decade in an international comparison.
According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Swedish pupils had dropped the farthest in both maths and physics among the four countries which participated in the TIMSS in both 1995 and 2008.
In the 2008 study, Sweden had fallen to second to last place when it came to students' knowledge of maths among the ten countries included in the study.
Sweden was also found to offer less class time in both maths and physics compared to the other countries in the study.
Monica Gillenius cited Japan as an example for Sweden to follow.
"Their teachers reason together over teaching methods. They determine a problem and talk about how they can teach in order for it to be comprehensible for the students," she said.