Today I started my day by buying breakfast and a latte in local coffee shop. A pleasant young lad served me and said “£6.50 please”. I handed over £10 and then gave him another 50p. The extra change made him look nervous, and he called over to the girl making the drinks. He said, “So, how much change do I give?” The reply “£4” was spoken in a Polish accent. Has anyone else experienced a similar situation recently?
This simple but telling interaction is on the same day as Sir Peter Williams, (chair of the ‘Government’s Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education’) expressed concerns over how poorly equipped primary schools are to teach maths. He raised concerns that a quarter of eleven year olds are failing to meet the expected standards of numeracy. He highlighted the importance of combating the “can’t do” attitude to mathematics that appeared to be unique to Britain.
I concluded this morning that Poland must have a “can do” mathematics attitude and wondered if we need to open the doors of his proposed ‘summer mathematics courses’ to all the children who were educated during the last ten years of Labour administration. Their slogan ‘education, education, education’ seems to be over ten years behind schedule.