• Sweden's news in English

Basic maths befuddle Swedish third graders

TT/The Local · 22 Oct 2009, 07:37

Published: 22 Oct 2009 07:37 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

That such a large percentage, 27 percent, of Swedish third-graders can’t tell the difference between addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division depends almost entirely on the fact that they haven’t had opportunities to learn them all.

“We’ve heard a lot of comments from teachers that many wait to go through all four arithmetic operations and many textbooks don’t teach division until fourth grade,” writes National National Agency for Education (Skolvertket) project leader Maj Götefelt in a statement.

Results were better for a second subsection of the national mathematics test, where more than 90 percent of students achieved higher than the lowest acceptable level of knowledge.

Third graders were also tested in their knowledge of Swedish, with results showing that students performed well in oral expression, which tested their ability to describe an event and give oral instructions.

A total of 98 percent passed the required level for Swedish, and 91 percent the required level for Swedish as a second language.

The most difficult test subsection for both groups was reading comprehension.

Story continues below…

In examining the test results, the schools administration selected test scores from 400 schools, representing 12 percent of Sweden’s third graders.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

08:56 October 22, 2009 by crunchy2k
Sounds like a teacher education problem......here in the states, third grade teachers can't do math. That's why the are relegated to the elementary grades. The headline should have been, ' Basic maths befuddle Swedish third grade teachers.' That was found out when Calif. required a test on basic skills to get a license to teach.
09:37 October 22, 2009 by just a question
It's not that the teacher don't do maths. It's that you cannot force the students to learn, cause then they will be traumatized and then the parents will complain.

Of course these children will grow in the future, become teacher, and perpetuate the chain of incompetence and idiocy.

Swedish students only play at school, but they don't learn anything cause this is the way it is here.
12:50 October 22, 2009 by Lisaann
Agree with just a question, exactly. All play! Foreigners bringging their children here for the "So called good Education" ought to do their homework first, or they will find, like so many did, their kids lagging behind miserably! the Educational system here in theory is good, but the way methodlogy needs much improvements.
13:37 October 22, 2009 by Beynch
The math fiasco goes back to the socialists' insistance that everything in education should be dragged down to the lowest common denominator. All the interest of maoist egalitarianism, and misguided opposition to what they call `elitism`. The result of course is a populace with substandard education, which can not measure up to realities of a global economy. With this continuing, Sweden must prepare itself for meager times ahead.
13:49 October 22, 2009 by just a question
If you push any student to be better and learn more, you will only find criticism and angry parents blaming on you about what awful person and bad teacher you are.

If you're the kind of teacher that wants the students to go further and be ambitious, this is not your country.

If you consider that education means play all day long and be a clown in the hands of the students, this is your place.
15:02 October 22, 2009 by jag2009
May I ask.....

Is anyone a teacher who has commented on this article? I don't disagree/agree with any of the comments, as I don't have much knowledge about that level of education in Sweden, until university. Is this really the case that so many sod about and play up in class, rather than learn? Or is this just certain areas? Also compaired to other countries is it better or worse.

Good comments all!!

15:13 October 22, 2009 by Suzie F
What twaddle! I have two daughters, aged 6 and 7 years. They both go in the grade above their age. One is in the first grade and the other is in the second. They can both solve simple division sums and simple multiplication sums. (i.e. up to and including 10 x 10). As for addition and subtraction... they have no difficulties, even with larger numbers.

We have lived in Sweden for three years. They started in a regular Swedish school within 3 weeks of our arrival. We had no knowledge of the Swedish language. The can now both speak,read and understand Swedish. This is thanks to dedicated, hard working teachers at the school. Tack Kilbo Skolan!
19:37 October 22, 2009 by zircon
How much is- ein rauber plus ein rauber?
19:41 October 22, 2009 by Suzie F
2 rauber? Kanske!
20:15 October 22, 2009 by reason
In third grade I spent math drawing faces in all the zeros and generally zoning out. My teacher despaired and spoke to my parents about it, but you can't really force a child to take an interest in something. The harder you push, the less interesting it gets. Today I have a master's degree in engineering.

Lesson to be learned: don't put too much weight on what a child knows or doesn't know at eight or nine.
20:20 October 22, 2009 by Nemesis
This does not sound correct to me.

My friends kids who range from 6 to mid teens are all good at mathmatics. I am helping my friends teenager wiht calculus as she has went up a grade or two.

That sounds like a highly localised problem, most likely in a Lan or Kommune.

I think the author of this story should recheck the facts, in case this is a highly localised problem in part of Sweden, due to local adminisatration problems.
20:39 October 22, 2009 by bettan1
All industrialized nations have these issues and problems with kids not learning the basics of any subject. Many years ago, parents in general took a personal interest and encouragement of their kids and had a hands on approach. Unfortunately, when you have big government in any country which dumbs down it's citizens by promising if you give over total allegiance to the state and sign over your soul to an outrageous tax system, we'll give you state welfare entitlements beyond your wildest dreams.

Now fast forwarding to a bunch of warped generations who've bought into that scheme of it's the governments responsibility to raise my kids and educate them, then this is what you have. Most won't remotely lift a finger anymore for there own kids, because government has taken away and drive and initiative it's citizens once had on there own in the beginning.
20:42 October 22, 2009 by survivor6901
I am a teacher here in sweden and sadly it is true to say the educational system here is Sweden is far from perfect. I am an English woman and have been told on many occasions to lower my teaching standards as it makes the Swedish teachers look incompetent.

Whether you believe this or not is not my concern, but those of you who have children of school age know deep down they are not getting what they should for their age.

There are exceptions and if you're lucky enough to get your child in such a school you should make the most of it.

I myself have a child who is now in 2nd grade, (not the school I teach at myself I might add), and all he has done for the last 2 years is draw and play. I have had to educate him at home myself. His teacher told me at our last development talk, " your son can count to 20," he was 7½ at the time. The teacher couldn't understand why I wasn't impressed by this.

My son is lucky as I'm able to teach him at home and he has been able to read since he was 4yrs old and count to hundred since he was 5yrs old. This is not me bragging or saying my son is exceptional, he is the right level for his age.

As for the 3rd grade math national test, it is a joke. The whole thing is set around a story, (not connected to math), and the four basic math operations only come up in a few questions. Many teachers giving this test were as confused as the children.
22:24 October 22, 2009 by Suzie F
@ survivor6901

You maybe should look for a job in Västmanlands lan. My son is 5 years old. He can count to 100 - most of the time, (in English and Swedish). He can read numbers to 99. He can recognise his own name in both long and short form and yet he is considered to need extra help because he is "coming after time". I agree, he is a little slow and needs a different method of "reaching / teaching" , but the point is... the standards you speak of, seem somewhat removed from my experience. It must be regional and I must be very fortunate to have found such a super school. Tack tack Kilbo Skolan!!!!
00:05 October 23, 2009 by Nemesis
@ survivor6901

I think you should move to a different kommune.

Your child is being let down badly by that school. Your child deserves better.

There is also a lot of good schools in Sweden.

If you talk to other parents I think you will soon find a better school for your child.

At 7 a child should have no problem with masic mathmatics such as addition, substraction, multiplication and division. Counting he should have got past a long time ago.

That is a very bad teacher, who should not be teaching children.

Standards need to be pushed up, not dragged won to the lowest common denominator.
14:22 October 23, 2009 by zircon
Suzie F- Kanske? Kanske det.. (First use of Swedish grammar, so no more, please..)
19:25 November 22, 2009 by aneleH
The usual problem with kids not understanding maths in such a young age is the teachers. If a teacher chooses to puzzle the kids instead of giving them straight anwsers that is a very sore point. When I was a kid I experienced that uncertainty among a lot of my teachers, and when they didn't know what was right, how could I? If teachers don't teach the kids from the start what the difference between addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division is, it can be really tough to catch up. Personally I was a victim; I still struggle with maths because I was given a sucky start.
Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available