Make maths count 2

September 20, 2002

A strong reaction is always welcome, especially when it pinpoints the central issue. Jonathan Osborne's many articles show that his initial analysis is not that far removed from mine. We disagree about what is to be done.

I believe that if more students of all abilities are to understand and respond to science and maths, they must master certain technical details. Osborne believes interpreting science is about "telling one of many possible explanatory stories" that represent "the product of sustained inquiry by individuals working in social and historical contexts". The contrast is stark and needs to be debated. Either science and maths are natural extensions of "children's innate curiosity", in which case a child-centred, constructivist approach might make sense; or they are unnatural disciplines that can be taught and learnt, in which case a more structured approach is needed.

Tony Gardiner
University of Birmingham

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