Maths, what do we really need to know?

What do we need and why would we learn it? That is a question that I am debating with myself a lot recently.

I have reached the wonderful age of 32, I have no Maths GCSE though I did sit and pass a learn direct adult numeracy test when I was 20yrs old. I have worked through the open university and achieved a Bsc Hons degree in health and social care. I have Cert HE in Working with young people and families, Diabetes care, Mental health and Working together for children. I have worked my way up to senior support worker supporting young adults with Learning difficulties and mental health to live independently and supporting young people to learn life skills in a supported housing project. I am now a self employed, home educating mama of soon to be four children. So why do I sometimes look at my older children’s maths work and feel baffled?

I understand for those working towards their GCSE/ IGCSE then there will be certain things that need to be covered, but if we are not currently working with that end goal in mind why is there so much pressure to cover things that both my husband (an IT manager) and I look at and struggle to think up any given scenario when such knowledge would be required or applied?

The question first arose when my 12 yr old son and I were looking at long multiplication in his work book. Ok, we have this mastered and he is really rather good. Multiplication is a handy skill to have, one day he may find himself without a calculator and it is kind of one of those core things that will probably come up any number of times in his future…… But then came the long multiplication with decimal points. I found myself looking online to teach myself this skill so that I would be better able to support his learning of it. Thats a wonderful thing right there about home education though, I dont have to know it all or be a teacher, there is nothing stopping me working and learning alongside the children. But anyway, I sat and figured it out, and then went through it with him and was quite chuffed at our progress until the question arose; ” Have you EVER needed this?” and the honest answer was no. I have had access to calculators and have managed all my financial matters including self assessment forms, spread sheets etc without requiring this skill. So why did I stress over it? Why did I not just say “oh dont worry son, we can return to that *IF* we ever need to”  ?

We have since come up against a page regarding “powers of”. Simplifying and calculating sums with the power of which frankly confused all of us. This is what caused my husband to even speak out “I cant think of one example of when this might ever really be needed” so why teach it? Why are our children put under pressure to learn this when as adults none of us have a clue because we dont need to know it!

Needless to say that this is a page we will be skipping to enjoy some time in the park in the sunshine with friends instead.






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