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Some pupils may have been 'born bad at maths', teachers advised

18/08/2011 Joanna
Supply maths struggling to boost numeracy skills in their classrooms needn't be disheartened as, according to new research, some people are simply born bad at maths.

Looking into the possible links between mathematical understanding and overall intelligence, a team working at the John Hopkins University of Baltimore in the United States found evidence to suggest an ability to work with numbers could be pre-determined.

The team's research centred around asking 200 four-year-olds to estimate the number of coloured dots shown on a screen, with this geared towards gauging their 'number sense'.

Then the same group of pre-school children were tested on their calculation skills as well as on their ability to determine which numbers were greater than others.

Notably, the findings revealed that those participants who did better at the guessing test tended to fare better in the maths tests, suggesting an affinity for numbers is genetic.

Commenting, study leader Dr Melissa Libertus said: "[This research] shows that the link between 'number sense' and math ability is already present before the beginning of formal math instruction."

She added, however, that much work still needs to be done on the link between an in-built sense for numbers and maths skills, with this line of study having the potential to revolutionise the way the subject is taught in classrooms the world over.

The findings come as separate research carried out on behalf of the Conservative Party has revealed that poor maths skills could be placing the UK's economic wellbeing in jeopardy.

Indeed, according to the report, which was launched in partnership with celebrity mathematician Carol Vorderman, as many as one in five 19-year-olds in the UK can now be classed as "functionally innumerate", with this figure significantly higher than in other industrialised countries.

At the same time as issuing the warning, Ms Vorderman has argued that, as well as making maths compulsory in the nation's schools and colleges up until the age of 18, the single maths GCSE should also be scrapped in favour of a double numerical qualification.  ADNFCR-2164-ID-800703305-ADNFCR
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