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British people often boast about being ‘bad at maths’. Here’s why that causes genuine harm

The Guardian – Kester Brewin

“Sadly, those with dyscalculia have an extra burden. While admitting “I can’t read” has some social stigma, “I’m just bad at maths” is a statement that almost carries kudos. What this means is that those who genuinely find mathematics problematic are often masked by the acceptance that it is fine to do poorly in the subject. This is a great pity, because numbers are such a powerful tool. What teachers do in schools is present a suite of languages: means by which we learn to interrogate the world.” (more)

Geography a force for broadening the mind, says Michael Palin

The Guardian – Jamie Grierson

“The comedian and television presenter Michael Palin has praised the study of geography as a force for broadening the mind as fresh figures show a spike in take-up for the subject at schools in England. The man behind travel shows including Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle says studying geography is key to understanding the world and “helping us to realise that we all share the same planet”. Palin’s comments come as A-level and GCSE geography entries in England are on the rise. GCSE entries increased by 36% and A-level entries by 21% between 2012 and 2017.” (more)

Children starting school ‘cannot communicate in full sentences’

The Guardian – Pippa Crerar

“More than a quarter of children starting primary school are unable to communicate in full sentences as concerns grow about the amount of time they are spending in front of screens, the education secretary will say in his first major speech on social mobility. Damian Hinds is expected to say on Tuesday that he wants to harness technology so parents can do more to help their children’s early language development.” (more)

UK’s Mandarin Learners Head for Top of Class in Other Subjects

Women of China – Su Yilin

“Mandarin learning in British classrooms is enhancing the ability of students to perform well in other subjects, including English and mathematics, according to a new survey released on Friday. The report shows 89 percent of students studying Mandarin at schools taking part in the survey achieved GCSE Grade 5 or better in English. In comparison, among students at the same schools who were not learning Mandarin, only 72 percent earned GCSE Grade 5 or better in English. Similarly, 87 percent of students learning Mandarin achieved GCSE Grade 5 or above in mathematics, while only 61 percent made the grade among students not studying Mandarin.” (more)

Should children be banned from using mobile phones in the classroom?

The Guardian – Anne Longfield and Carolyn Roberts

“Many have seen the debate framed by France’s decision to ban mobile phones in schools from September this year. The fact is schools here are unlikely to respond well to an edict from on high, nor does the question have to be about mobile phones, but specifically smartphones. There is a pretty persuasive argument for urging all schools to go smartphone-free. I have never argued the internet is a bad thing, it’s a fabulous resource for children but the fact is that it wasn’t designed with them in mind, and overuse or misuse of it does present some clear problems for children.” (more)

UK students are slowly ditching French and German in favor of Spanish and Chinese

Quartz – Nikhil Sonnad

“For a Brit trying to decide which foreign language to learn, French has long been an obvious choice. France is just across the English Channel, the language is widely spoken, and it is influential on the world stage. But now, Brits are finally expanding their horizons beyond the languages of Europe, to China, the Arab world, and Latin America. While French remains the most-studied language among secondary school students in the UK, its popularity is falling dramatically. Spanish is risking along with non-European languages like Chinese and Arabic. The same trend is also happening in the US.” (more)