Parents role in Education ?


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Profile John Clark
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Message 1299780 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 14:38:18 UTC

Same for me, and the log one I plotted ...
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Message 1299809 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 16:05:06 UTC - in response to Message 1299780.

Same for me, and the log one I plotted ...

log(1) = 0, in any usable base.

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Message 1299834 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 16:56:42 UTC - in response to Message 1299739.

For those who want to see if maths standards have fallen since the sixties, do the test yourself and get youngsters in your family tackle these simple maths problems.

Formula 1 Team, Williams struggling to find recruits with maths skills

Alex Burns, the chief executive of the Formula 1 company, which is racing in the Indian Grand Prix, said he was alarmed and surprised that most 16 to 18 year-olds keen to work for the company could not do basic maths sums and had failed to reach a 50pc score on a range of practical tests.


Of the 250 applications for its apprenticeship scheme this year, 45 were invited to an open day and 16 made it through to the tests round. Just six young people passed, with 10 failing to get more than half the answers right – a failure rate of two-thirds.


I did most in my head, and used pencil and paper for Q3, 4 and 14. I got them all right, in a few minutes. Got my son (MSc) to do them, without calculator, and he got the logs questions wrong. He also used pen and paper for most questions.

All those things are on the GCSE syllabus apart from Logs. Long division is done in primary (elementary) school and they have probably forgotten how to do it by the time they graduate. They use calculators now for practically everything.

In fact looking back over 20 years to my GCSEs I am pretty sure we did not do Logs until 'A' Level. So if the standards have dropped, they dropped a long, long time ago and it has taken them a long time to notice.
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Message 1299853 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 17:26:36 UTC - in response to Message 1299834.

For those who want to see if maths standards have fallen since the sixties, do the test yourself and get youngsters in your family tackle these simple maths problems.

Formula 1 Team, Williams struggling to find recruits with maths skills

Alex Burns, the chief executive of the Formula 1 company, which is racing in the Indian Grand Prix, said he was alarmed and surprised that most 16 to 18 year-olds keen to work for the company could not do basic maths sums and had failed to reach a 50pc score on a range of practical tests.


Of the 250 applications for its apprenticeship scheme this year, 45 were invited to an open day and 16 made it through to the tests round. Just six young people passed, with 10 failing to get more than half the answers right – a failure rate of two-thirds.


I did most in my head, and used pencil and paper for Q3, 4 and 14. I got them all right, in a few minutes. Got my son (MSc) to do them, without calculator, and he got the logs questions wrong. He also used pen and paper for most questions.

All those things are on the GCSE syllabus apart from Logs. Long division is done in primary (elementary) school and they have probably forgotten how to do it by the time they graduate. They use calculators now for practically everything.

In fact looking back over 20 years to my GCSEs I am pretty sure we did not do Logs until 'A' Level. So if the standards have dropped, they dropped a long, long time ago and it has taken them a long time to notice.


It's around 30 years since I did my GCE "O" levels, logs were part of the syllabus then, though that was likely the last time I looked at a log table, and that might be why I got 14 wrong (if I'd thought about it longer I think I would've figured it out, I gave myself a total of 2 minutes to complete all 15).

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I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that ...

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Message 1299902 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 19:30:55 UTC - in response to Message 1299834.
Last modified: 28 Oct 2012, 19:32:57 UTC

All those things are on the GCSE syllabus apart from Logs. Long division is done in primary (elementary) school and they have probably forgotten how to do it by the time they graduate. They use calculators now for practically everything.

In fact looking back over 20 years to my GCSEs I am pretty sure we did not do Logs until 'A' Level. So if the standards have dropped, they dropped a long, long time ago and it has taken them a long time to notice.

The fact they use calculators for everything, should not excuse schools from ensuring the mathematical principles, or the ability to do it the easy way. In your head.

And why, if you are right, were logs moved to "A" level. The non-academic kids that go into an engineering apprenticeship will need to know logs, in some cases on a daily basis.

And what is the point of broadcasters talking about sound levels and strengths of earthquakes if 90% of the audience have no understanding of the units being used.

edit] This is not a personal attack on you Ess, you just happen to be the local teaching rep.

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Message 1299915 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 20:09:56 UTC

Log tables were part of my O Level maths, but the A Levels introduced Regression Analysis and tables. I think I still have my tables some where in the house.
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Message 1299927 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 20:22:56 UTC

I still have mine from 1961.



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Message 1299930 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 20:32:32 UTC - in response to Message 1299927.

I still have mine from 1961.





Now that looks familiar....same one we used in '66.
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Message 1299973 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 22:37:41 UTC - in response to Message 1299927.
Last modified: 28 Oct 2012, 22:38:38 UTC

I still have mine from 1961.





Again, my point that log(1) = 0 in any base.

log[3](243/27) = log[3](3^5/3^3) = log[3](3^2) = 2 * log[3](3) = 2 * 1 = 2.

Beyond that kind of manipulation, the rest will not be easy because many things cannot be (readily)written as a power of the base in question (paticularly when the power ... the exponent ... is not an integer). You had tables (as did I for just a *couple* of years) and now I have a calculator, as do my students. The technology for the "tougher" log questions has changed, but a table is still a technology of sorts.
That is not to say that some students (and some teachers) do not do the easy things on a calculator when I can do it faster, as fast or nearly as fast in my head or on paper/blackboard/whiteboard.
BTW, I *seem* to recall small exposure to logs in 6th grade (age 11-12 years). If not, at least I can guarantee I did work with different bases, like how to write 234 (base ten) in base five, etc. ... .

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Message 1300004 - Posted: 28 Oct 2012, 23:44:39 UTC - in response to Message 1299902.

All those things are on the GCSE syllabus apart from Logs. Long division is done in primary (elementary) school and they have probably forgotten how to do it by the time they graduate. They use calculators now for practically everything.

In fact looking back over 20 years to my GCSEs I am pretty sure we did not do Logs until 'A' Level. So if the standards have dropped, they dropped a long, long time ago and it has taken them a long time to notice.

The fact they use calculators for everything, should not excuse schools from ensuring the mathematical principles, or the ability to do it the easy way. In your head.

And why, if you are right, were logs moved to "A" level. The non-academic kids that go into an engineering apprenticeship will need to know logs, in some cases on a daily basis.

And what is the point of broadcasters talking about sound levels and strengths of earthquakes if 90% of the audience have no understanding of the units being used.

edit] This is not a personal attack on you Ess, you just happen to be the local teaching rep.

I didn't think it was an attack. I was merely stating the facts. Most of the questions should have been able to be answered by a GCSE level student apart from logs which they aren't taught. If logs are on the A level course (which is easy to check if you look at the AQA, EDEXCEL, OCR etc websites) then I wouldn't know as I've only taught math at GCSE level.

Assuming they are taught at the A level (which would surprise me if they weren't), one would expect that any engineering etc to take math at A level.

The only reason they would struggle at the questions is because they all use calculators these days. There is very little need to be able to do math without one so I am assuming this requirement is less important in GCSE. Saying that, there is a part of the exam where they are not allowed to use calculators.

So if they are being taught the correct math to the correct standard then what other reason could there be for this failure?

Could it be that now everyone regardless of ability does GCSEs now? Whereas in the 60s only the top 20% did 'O' level?

I am just thinking out loud based on what I know of the GCSE math course from having taught it. A 'C' grade might be obtainable based on being able to use the math taught in certain situations. Something that a good proportion of the population can do. The brightest 20% however will be more able to apply what they have learnt to unfamiliar situations. So old 'O' Level students would of course do better in an exam of this nature because they had been pre-selected to do so.

The old 'O' Level was all exam based so disadvantaged those who could do the math but performed badly in exam situations. Which may explain the discrepancy in the results here. A component of the current GCSE is course work based.

To summarise:
1) Most of the content in the test is on the current GCSE and taught to the same standard. (only thing I couldn't see was logs) with less ('less', not 'no') stress on mental math which is deemed less important when everyone has a calculator on the phone.
2) O level used to be an 'elite' exam sat by those who could transfer their knowledge easily.
3) This would mean that 'O' level students would overall be likely to perform better because they have already been pre-selected based on their ability to to sit exams.

That is my proposal based on my knowledge of curriculum theory, educational theory and educational practice.
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Message 1300009 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 0:01:40 UTC

As a student in the California School System, I remember that we got the very basic stuff on logs in middle school. Of course back then we also had to learn how to use a slip stick. As you all should know a slip stick in a log device. As I got bumped into the high level math classes by high school I'm not sure what the other kids were getting, but we had to be able to calculate the log table integral calculus, never mind just use it.

Standards have slipped and by an order of magnitude too.

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Message 1300053 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 1:56:37 UTC
Last modified: 29 Oct 2012, 1:57:58 UTC

Remember O Levels and A levels and using one of these?



I was slightly different and used one of these instead ...



The Oatis King spiral slide rule was accurate to 4 decimal places (depending on the size of the calculation).
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Message 1300055 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 2:02:02 UTC - in response to Message 1300053.

Remember O Levels and A levels and using one of these?



I was slightly different and used one of these instead ...



The Oatis King spiral slide rule was accurate to 4 decimal places (depending on the size of the calculation).


The grandfather of the calculator.
Use a slide rule, or a table, and you are not using your own abilities for the entire problem.

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Message 1300135 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 6:25:50 UTC - in response to Message 1300004.

I feel you have missed a point or two here. The linked article was about 16 to 18 year olds applying for a fairly prodigious apprenticeship. That to me looks like those not wishing to go on through the "A" level system.

As other firms and organisations also offer apprenticeships at this age. BAe, RR, McLaren and the Armed Forces are known personally to me in this area. All the technicians and engineers in these firms will use and therefore must know how to use logarithms.

Therefore to me I cannot see why, just because we have calculators, that logarithms were dropped from pre-16's education.

And I have also worked in places where all personal electronic devices are banned, including electrical powered watches. For the safety of the equipment and personnel, and for security.

Try taking your phone into a company that chooses to keep things secret from it's competitors. In a lot of cases this is the preferred route rather than patents. Because with patents you have to tell the world what you know, and they also have a lifespan.

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Message 1300162 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 9:49:10 UTC

You needed the log book for trigonometry tables as well. Funny how some things stick in your mind after 50 years, I still know that Sin 30 = 1/2 or 0.5, although quite what use that is to me these days I'm not really sure! I think the basics of logs and using log tables should still be taught, and having grasped the principles, THEN there is nothing wrong with using a calculator to save time.

The old 'O' Level was all exam based so disadvantaged those who could do the math but performed badly in exam situations. Which may explain the discrepancy in the results here. A component of the current GCSE is course work based.

Es makes a good point there. 40 or 50 years ago all school work was exam based. We thought nothing of sitting 2 or 3 hour exams, it was what we did, no one liked it but it was the way it was. You either knew your subject or you didn't, hence the number of mock GCE papers sat for revision. But it has all changed these days and most stuff now is a lot more course work based, marked during the year, which forms part of the overall assessment.

There is a case for viva voce assessments at University for borderline cases, and the ECDL that I taught at College has 7 mini exams for the course modules. It made sense to separate them out, as the modules were all quite different from emails to spreadsheets, and databases to word processing. Almost like 7 different subjects in one course.

But why this change in general education? Simply because the last two decades have shown that kids these days simply don't have the mental and psychological strength and ability to sit formal exams any more. They fall apart at the seams, get all stressed out and can't perform. So to counter it and maintain pass rates they had to introduce in course assessment to deal with it. Whats the problem with kids today? It's not just a lack of parental support or interest, its not just meddling educational psychologists inventing excuses why kids can't concentrate, it goes deeper than that. What is the basic problem? No one has yet answered that question. Perhaps when they do, and we fix it, we can get back to proper education.



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Message 1300180 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 11:34:48 UTC - in response to Message 1300162.


But why this change in general education? Simply because the last two decades have shown that kids these days simply don't have the mental and psychological strength and ability to sit formal exams any more. They fall apart at the seams, get all stressed out and can't perform. So to counter it and maintain pass rates they had to introduce in course assessment to deal with it. Whats the problem with kids today? It's not just a lack of parental support or interest, its not just meddling educational psychologists inventing excuses why kids can't concentrate, it goes deeper than that. What is the basic problem? No one has yet answered that question. Perhaps when they do, and we fix it, we can get back to proper education.


Good post Chris. IMV, I think the issue is "timescale". If I recall (correct me if I'm mistaken Es), Es made a point some time ago with regards the learning ability of kids - some can grasp immediately whle others require a bit more repetition.

In the past, teaching was set to a specific timetable & if the class had reached that sooner than later, it was constantly repeated. This was an issue as many kids ended up bored & that in itself, caused further issues in that the bored ended up disrupting the rest of the class.

Another issue in the past was sports. 2 full afternoons were dedicated to various sports with the sports teachers using those who disliked it to make up the numbers. In my case it was rugby. now that is a game I like watching but an 8 stone bag of bones playing it? 2 days a week my mates & I bunked off (truancy).

That came to a stop when a particular teacher took us in hand & eventually he arranged for us to take his as well as other classes when sports days arrived.

More recently I completed several courses of interest to me. The problem here was that (it semed to me) that there was a deadline to be met & the course was set at a fast pace, with the teacher being "upset" (not sure of the correct term to use here) with the schedule being delayed.

I can see that teachers do have a hard time whichever way one looks at the problem, but I must say that politicians have got to get the hell out of Education.

With the right teachers even unruly kids can be changed. Instead of doing sports, I ended up taking Music, Latin, Geography & German. I'm ashamed to say I cannot remember the names of the Geography & German teachers but the Music & Latin were Mr Hotham & Mr Martin (Hev might recall them)

I owe my love of music to Mr Hotham, especially classical.
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Message 1300198 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 12:57:25 UTC - in response to Message 1300162.

The problem as I see it with the old system of 3 hour exams is that in most cases the students did get enough practice throughout their school career. It was something that suddenly appeared in their final year.

It was a problem that seemed to go away at the Army College because you kept seeing them term upon term. Thats because as an electronics technical apprentice you could see in the three year period,

three levels of Army education exams, min 5 subjects
"O" levels
"A" levels
Military training exams, like Military Law, Tactics etc.
Military trade exams,
C & G exams
National Cert/Diploma exams

That totalled was about 60 exams of at least 2 hours each.

I like the idea of course work, but why do I get the idea that sometimes the teachers may have too much input before the work has to be handed in finally.
And how much can the marks awarded affected by the student/teacher relationship?

I'm not sure I like group work especially when there can be a fairly large difference in the abilities of the students. I have seen where the better student has got frustrated because of the lack of understanding and lack of input from a weak student.

I have trouble with module work where the exam for that module is taken immediately at the end of the module. The majority of students end up not remembering enough of the subject one year down the road when they start having to apply it. With the final year exam there was a good chance they had been forced to put it in long term memory.

And don't get me going on multiple choice exams.
Lets just put it this way, I have a long time friend who has a fairly recent partner who teaches a subject I have never studied. I sat one of the exams in their kitchen one Sunday morning and got 76%, enough for a "B" pass.

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Message 1300211 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 13:53:10 UTC

I'm not sure I like group work especially when there can be a fairly large difference in the abilities of the students. I have seen where the better student has got frustrated because of the lack of understanding and lack of input from a weak student.

Group work was introduced because school inspectors were marking down classes because the brightest pupils were observed to be bored. Officially in teacher training its called Differentiation. The real fault was of course schools and colleges working on the bums on seats principle, to maintain funding. This put anyone in a class notwithstanding their ability, and expecting a teacher to cope.

I have trouble with module work where the exam for that module is taken immediately at the end of the module. The majority of students end up not remembering enough of the subject one year down the road when they start having to apply it. With the final year exam there was a good chance they had been forced to put it in long term memory.

I'm 50/50 on that one. People these days don't have long term memory, all they can see back is as far as their last pay check. I swear the Russians or China have put something in the UK water supplies.

And don't get me going on multiple choice exams.
Lets just put it this way, I have a long time friend who has a fairly recent partner who teaches a subject I have never studied. I sat one of the exams in their kitchen one Sunday morning and got 76%, enough for a "B" pass.


Multiple choice exams, or Gapped Handouts, are a cop out. They are there to give pretty good clues as to what is required, whether in class or in exams. They are used because pupils today can't think for themselves like we were able to in the past.

Education today is driven by the pupil, not the other way around. I know people who run small businesses who wont employ anyone under 21, and are even wary of those under 30. And I don't blame them one bit!

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Message 1300216 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 14:06:34 UTC - in response to Message 1300211.

I know people who run small businesses who wont employ anyone under 21, and are even wary of those under 30. And I don't blame them one bit!


I can agree here. My peers and those younger than me seem to be largely unemployable (The reasons are many and it's an issue that goes far beyond education). I also remember how hard it was landing my first real jobs, due to my age. I haven't job-searched since I was 18 however and expect I'd have better luck now in my 30's.

But it really is something, everyone talks about the economy and lack of jobs, yet we have some jobs at my company and have trouble finding proper help, I still have little job competition even today. And this is factory work I'm talking about here. Many young Americans do not possess the skills or motivation necessary for even simple math and some hard work. Where's that mean the future is heading?
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Message 1300220 - Posted: 29 Oct 2012, 14:15:01 UTC

Where's that mean the future is heading?

In a downward spiral. Worries the heck outta me .....

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