Higher Maths, an option for everyone??

Basically, Due to an unfortunate collision between my finger and the front door hindering my typing abilities, this blog will be considerably short and sweet.

I’ve noticed a lot of references to the new Project Maths course recently and as a student in one of the 24 pilot schools around the country, I decided to give a quick overview of the course for anyone who was interested.

What exactly is Project Maths? It’s a new maths course that the government have invested a looot of money in, which was introduced to all 5th year students this year. Leaving Cert 2012 will be the first official year that students sit the exam. (But has been sat by 24 pilot school in 2010, and 2011)

What’s the purpose behind it? Essentially because students were graduating from Irish universities with degrees in areas like maths and science, but were unable to find or maintain jobs because they didn’t actually comprehend what they had learned in college. In the old leaving cert maths course, there is a lot of repetition in the questions which appear each year, and it is possible to get an A grade by just learning the methods of solving the problems off, without understanding the significance of where the answer came from. This is fine if you only need maths for points in the leaving cert, but if you were actually looking at something maths related as a profession, a higher standard of understanding is needed.                                                                                       Also, students had no motivation to work at maths because it was deemed pointless by so many, giving it the records for highest numbers dropping to pass and highest failure rate. (Ironically, with more people failing pass maths then honours)

What are the differences between the courses? Whereas the old course is very straight forward, numbers on the page, Project Maths is much more interactive, putting the equations into real-life context. We’ve also been given graphs and pictures and asked to estimate slopes and correlations and around 5-10 marks on each question go to explaining ‘how’ or ‘why’ you chose your answer.

Extra points for honours maths students – A lot of people I’ve spoken to disagree with this decision saying it’s unfair. I’m dyslexic and have to sit 3 languages for the leaving cert, that’s not fair. The system already favours those who are more linguistically orientated, so personally I think it’s only fair to give the same opportunities to those with more of a mathematical mind. By introducing extra points, students will have the option of dropping to pass in 2 subjects if needs be, because the 40 points lost could be re-gained by achieving an A grade in maths. This is hoped to encourage more people to give honours a chance.

Over all opinion: In 5th year, it really seemed like a huge amount to take in, because you essentially had to go back to the beginning and re-learn so much of the material which you’ve previously covered, plus additional Leaving Cert  items. Although it’s hard to get into in the beginning, if you’re persistent then after a while, things do begin to slot in together and it becomes clear just how closely connected all of the different areas of maths are. It’s really a lot more comprehendible for everybody when it’s explained so clearly, and for that reason, I’m sure there will be an increase in the number of students choosing to stick it out in honours. About 1/3 of my year are currently doing higher level which is a pretty good sign for times ahead! It’s definitely a big commitment and the course requires a lot of time and effort, but is rewarding and gives you a much better standard of

maths at the end of the day, as well as more confidence in approaching questions.  I would absolutely advise current 5th years to stick with it for as long as possible, because it’s really worthwhile in the end.

Ok, so not exactly ‘short and sweet’, but maths is just such a fascinating subject!! It can be hard to know when to stop 😛 If there’s anything else you want to know or any other anything you disagree with, feel free to leave your viewpoints! =)

4 thoughts on “Higher Maths, an option for everyone??”

  1. Why do you HAVE to do three languages? Most 3rd levels take english + one other, and anyone i know who’s dyslexic got an exemption, they just had to do english…

  2. Ya, your right! tecnically for some scinece courses you get away without a modern language and for IT’s (and Trinity) you dont need Irish, but for the most part at least one is required and you are limiting yourself in a lot of situations if you don’t have them…

    Also, its quite dificult to get an exemption in languages because your level of dyslexia is compared against your IQ. So for example though 1 dyslexic girl in my class is exempt from languages the best the other 3 can hope for is a waver in exams.

    1. I thought that if you got an exemption from Irish that ment that the colleges couldn’t ask it as a requirement (execpt for primary school teaching)

  3. Ya, what i meant is that if you get an exemption from your languages, then each college has a set number of places in each course which will be offered to students with learning difficulties, and the students with the highest points going for the course will get these places.

    If you aren’t given an exemption, then although you can still apply to IT’s and some science courses, you are effectivly limiting yourself by choosing to drop the languages anyway…

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