Return of mathematics to high school for all: the implications
Mathematics will return for all in high school. What are the conditions? How will it happen?
The timeline around the ads
Let's start by looking at how the announcements went. After a slingshot of mathematics teachers, in particular with the APMEP (Association des professeurs de mathématiques de l'enseignement public) and various teachers' associations, the demand for a return to mathematics has become increasingly strong.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, then Minister of National Education and Youth, then announced on March 21, 2022 a return to mathematics for all with an increase in the time slot for scientific education, bringing it to 3.5 hours instead of the current 2 hours, an increase of 1.5 hours dedicated to mathematics. This option would then be compulsory for all those who have not taken mathematics as a speciality.
Just after the presidential election and after appointing the new Minister of National Education, Emmanuel Macron went back on this announcement and said that it will be provisionally an option because the staff to teach this reform has not yet been recruited. It would take about 450 teachers to teach this subject to the students concerned.
Finally, it was announced at the beginning of June that it would be neither compulsory nor an option. The difference is subtle: it will not be an option because this teaching will have to be offered in all high schools from September 2022, which is not the case for options. But it will not be compulsory for students. The goal is that by the beginning of the school year 2023, everyone will be doing mathematics: either as a speciality or as part of the science curriculum.
What the program contains
This program is defined through 5 intentions:
- To consolidate the mathematical culture of all students and to ensure that they have the basic knowledge and skills in mathematics
- Reconcile with mathematics students who have lost interest in this discipline; communicate the pleasure of practicing mathematics through activities that highlight its effectiveness and shed light on its place in the contemporary world
- To allow each student to apprehend the relevance of mathematical approaches and to develop intellectual aptitudes such as rigor, logic, critical thinking, but also inventiveness and creativity
- To provide the necessary basis for understanding quantitative phenomena as they are used in different disciplinary fields and as they shed light on certain current debates.
- To enable students who wish to do so to continue their education successfully in the senior class by choosing the optional teaching of complementary mathematics.
The goal is to be able to redirect more students to science studies afterwards and to bridge the gap for students who would like to take a math major in their senior year.
This program is divided into 4 chapters:
- Evolutionary phenomenon
- Analysis of numerical information
- Random phenomena
- Basic mathematical skills and automatisms
It is clear that the goal is to understand the world today. With the chapter evolution phenomenon, we think in particular of the Covid case curves that we have seen for 2 years. The chapter on the analysis of numerical information seems to be the basis of what everyone should have as a background: we see curves and figures all day long in the media, in presentations of all kinds and it is therefore important to have a critical mind on the figures that are presented to us every day.
As for the chapter on random phenomena, it also seems appropriate: how to understand the phenomena that punctuate daily life, why such and such a thing can happen only to me and little to others and vice versa.
The chapter on basic mathematical skills and automatisms also seems to be very appropriate. Just as one must master conjugation and grammar in French, it is important that everyone have a common minimum knowledge of mathematics. In short, this program seems to be geared towards real-life mathematics. It seems ambitious, however, given the amount of time allotted.
To see the entire National Education program, this official pdf is the right place.
At Albert School, we aim to reconcile math and business through our innovative teaching approach. Indeed, since data processing is at the heart of the transformation of companies, a high level of qualification in mathematics is therefore required and provided during the courses.
Albert School is quoted in Challenges in the issue dedicated to mathematics with the call to save mathematics by some thirty top executives.