Sweden looks to halt maths education slide

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Sweden looks to halt maths education slide

Education authorities want the government to spend billions on promoting 'collegial learning' to improve maths education in Sweden so students once again find themselves ranked among the top in Europe.


The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has proposed the government spend between 1.3 and 2 billion kronor ($200 to 318 million), primarily on programmes to help improve the skills and capabilities of the country's mathematics teachers, Sveriges Radio (SR) reports.

The focus of the spending will be on initiatives to promote 'collegial learning', that allow maths teachers to learn more from one another, as well as have access to experts.

The creation of a web-based platform for sharing best practices has also been proposed.

“There is a lot or research which suggests that just one collegial conversation, a collegial lesson, based on where the teachers find themselves, on the challenges and situations the teacher sees everyday, can affect the teachers in a positive way and create good conditions that can lead to changes in lecturing patterns,” the agency's Anders Palm told SR.

The suggestion comes in response to a nearly decade-long slide in the Swedish students' maths skills.

In primary school, students are often taught maths by sitting at their desks and working out simple problems from workbooks, a method which is viewed as counterproductive.

And one in three high school teachers have said they don't know exactly what students should be learning, while half of middle-school teachers have been shown to lack the right credentials, according to SR.

Research has also shown that improving the quality of lessons is the only way to help students improve their results.

At the behest of the government, the National Agency for Education has been tasked with finding ways to combat the problem and estimates its proposed solution will cost 80 million kronor in the first year.

According to the agency's timetable, every math teacher in the Sweden will have participated in the programme by 2016.


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