By Anthony Stewart, PhD
English Language (76% pass rate for CSEC 2019) is a Beauty. From the early years, nursery rhymes, poetry, songs, stories, plays, choral speaking, drama, and dance all reinforced our concept and understanding of the English Language. Mathematics (33% pass rate for CSEC 2019) on the other hand is the Beast. If you were good at it, you were a genius. This myth is believed today to the detriment of our students and they may grow with a fear of Mathematics. However, is this fear a product of nurture rather than nature?
The old system of Teacher Training involved entry-level teachers directly supervised by the Head Teacher. They had to attend classes and take a series of progressive tests and if they failed twice, these Pupil Teachers had to drop out of the system.
In the new system, Yes Workers, Set Workers, and even Teacher 1 and Teacher 11 and higher enter the system without the minimum requirement of a pass in Mathematics at the CSEC level. These teachers may be required to teach the fundamentals of Mathematics when they have not mastered the subject at the High School Level themselves and are not required to be actively pursuing studies in the area. No one is holding them accountable and our students are left at the mercy of their feet nurturing the Beast of Mathematics.
Teachers who find themselves with inadequate preparation in Mathematics can prepare themselves on their own using available resources then write CSEC Mathematics every time it is offered until they record a pass in the subject area. The SVGTU two-week In-Service Teacher Training program may need to offer Mathematics in the content area for the teachers who need it. Some countries require teachers to take courses every year to maintain their teaching license. We may pursue this one option.
Whether it is the individual teacher, the Head Teacher, or the policy makers, action is required to tame the Beast of Mathematics if we are to move the subject from its 1/3 pass rate at the CSEC level.