This week the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released its results and Australian kids had made no improvement since 1995 – that is 21 years – while other countries bolted past us.
Bad enough that we are being surpassed but when you look closely at the results it doesn’t look good for the future for a large number of our kids when maths and science are increasingly the base for our digital world, in work and in play.
For 14-year-olds in Year 8 Maths, 12 per cent of all students have ‘very little understanding of numbers’. Just 32 per cent ‘can apply their knowledge and understanding in a variety of relatively complex tasks’.
It is easy to blame the teachers – and fair given the decreasing academic standard required to enter teaching at university.
Family is key
However we parents have to shoulder quite a large part of the responsibility. We have to provide an environment that encourages kids to think and learn.
TIMSS has identified that the number of books a family has in the home has a significant correlation with maths results. 72 per cent of Year 4 student in a ‘books’ household achieved ‘proficient’ as a score, while just 51 per cent of students achieved this from ‘non book’ homes.
The message – we parents have to invest in the environment we provide our kids and books are still valuable compared to iPads and Google.
And it’s not money. Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, pointed out this week that federal education funding increased by 50 per cent in the past 10 years. It is just as much family.