Last Night’s TV – Dispatches: Kids Don’t Count

by Lynn Connolly

I’m sure nobody died of shock on hearing Dispatches’ revelation that kids today are pants at maths. Their parents were too and their teachers, so the chances of those adults imparting mathematical wisdom are, it would seem, slim to nil.

What was quite a shock though was to hear that of 155 teachers who were set maths questions that “a bright 11 year old” could/should be able to answer, only one teacher got all the answers right and more than half failed dismally.

Which of course leads to the inevitable issue that if the teachers don’t get it, how can they possibly teach it? They can’t is the short answer and that’s why so many kids go into secondary school with a tenuous – if any at all – grasp of maths.

Enter Richard Donne who set out his learning-maths-is-easy stall at Barton Hill primary in Bristol, and with the application of fun learning methods and a nod to the good old learning by rote theory, he made some fantastic inroads.

The children were making great progress until Richard’s lessons were halted to make way for SAT revision. But I think by then, he’d shown that his method was infinitely more likely to succeed than those currently employed in the national curriculum.

In effect, he went back to maths teaching as it used to be; learning by logic and repetition. For example, he used cups halved and quartered to demonstrate fractions and used the giggle making example of a kiss repeated to simplify multiplication.

I think schools everywhere should take Donne’s teaching methods on board and fast. I wonder if he can also bring about a learning revolution in written and spoken English??

I wish someone would; it’s a rare day – and a singular joy when it happens – that anybody under the age of 30 uses written English that doesn’t consist of text-type, and spoken English that makes frequent and unashamed use of words such as ‘aint’ and ‘no more’ when they mean isn’t and anymore.

It drvs me crzy, it rlly duz.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.