The TES is reporting that pupils from wealthier families are more likely to “think like a mathematician” according to Programme for International Student Assessment chief.
Pupils from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be exposed to simple applied mathematical problems while those from richer backgrounds are taught to “think like a mathematician”, Andreas Schleicher, director of education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), writes in the study of 64 schools systems from across the globe.
Mr Schleicher adds: “While disadvantaged students tend to learn simple facts and figures and are exposed to simple applied mathematics problems, their privileged counterparts experience mathematics instruction that helps them think like a mathematician, and develop deep conceptual understanding and advanced mathematical reasoning skills.”
The report’s findings were welcomed by the maths charity National Numeracy. Chief executive Mike Ellicock said: “Young people need both to master the essentials of numeracy and to know how to apply these to challenging practical problems. And it’s clear from the data for adult numeracy in the UK that too often this is not happening – that young people are finishing their formal education without real understanding of basic maths concepts and so are unable to do the maths they need at work and in life.”
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