Letters to the Editor

Cultivate a mathematics culture

Friday, September 21, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Once more the nation languishes as the woeful performance in CSEC mathematics continues unabated. The anxiety, fear and unrealistic expectations that characterise the period of waiting for the mathematics results were the same in 2012 as they were in the days of GCE. The results: mourning, post-mortem, blame game and commitments to address the situation were sung to the same melody, a more obscure rhythm and unsteady tempo, with a waywardly dissonant harmony.

However, to give any devil his due, I hasten to point out that one bar in this irritable musical piece, in terms of lyrics, did offer some hope. This is about what should be happening at the primary level. The mourners in particular should consider the following:

• Is it logical to think of a mathematics culture?

• Can there be a mathematics culture?

• Does a mathematics culture exist anywhere in the world?

• Would a mathematics culture effectively address Jamaica’s mathematics calamity?

• Does a mathematics culture exist in Jamaica?

• Do Jamaicans speak of a mathematics culture?

• Would Jamaicans be interested in cultivating a mathematics culture?

• Can Jamaicans cultivate a mathematics culture?

• Would a mathematics culture positively impact Jamaica socially, even economically?

• Is Jamaica benefiting from something like a sports culture?

These questions are indicative of the nature of the response that is needed to holistically address the existing situation. Quick fixes are perpetually recommended and sometimes implemented, but do not yield the expected results. All the general and specific, year-in and year-out recommendations constitute nothing more than a “super structure” that gives an occasional period of relief at the expense of dire frustration. As a nation, we have already envisaged the “super structure” and may have somewhat put the cart ahead of the horse, but all is not lost. We must now envisage and build the “base structure”.

Hensley Pink

Frankfield, Clarendon

hsampink@gmail.com

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