Thursday, 9 July 2009

Stress Tests

I don't know if anyone else has come across these, maybe they are a normal part of the curriculum in mainstream English schools? But I've just heard that a 9-year-old relative had one at his school in the South of England.
Basically, all the children in his class had to go (on their own) to the head teacher's office and verbally answer some mental arithmetic questions, they were given three seconds to answer each question. They got to chose when they wanted to do it, but they all had to do it.

Now, maybe its just me, but that sounds horrendous. I'm quite good at maths, but I'm sure I would do extremely badly under those conditions. My relative did really well, and his parents are proud of him, and its great for him that he's had a boost to his self esteem, but he's always been very good at mental arithmetic, its one of his strengths. When I think of my arty, creative, dreamy daughter having to go through that I just know that she would not only do very badly in terms of getting lots of questions wrong, but also become really anxious and very worried about the whole thing. There must be loads of kids whose brains just aren't wired to do well in situations like that, how many will come away thinking "I must be rubbish at maths" ?

Surely the most important thing with maths is to understand how to work things out, and the best way to do that is to apply it to real life. I can see that certain specific occupations might require people to have skills in quickfire calculations, but how is that relevant to a class of 9 and 10 year olds? If ever I heard of a good way to put more kids off maths - this is it!


Grit said...

quite frankly, i would have wet myself in a situation like this. at primary school i recall trembling with fear over mental arithmetic.

of course, had they got me at the age of 13 to do this, they would have found a sulky-face with a lot of lip. (or is that just now i'm over the age of 40?)

emma said...

Wow!! That will put virtually all kids off maths for life!! I probably couldn't answer a maths question in 3 seconds myself.

If that had happened to my 10 year old he'd have got all flustered and would have felt a failure for not doing it in the time frame. Its ridiculous.

K said...

Glad its not just me who thinks its insane!

Hannah said...

How awful! 9 years old - the world has gone mad!