We need to stop glamourising professions that have failed us

We need to stop glamourising professions that have failed us

12 September 2012 at 11:24

The time has come for Ireland to acknowledge the careers that make a positive difference to society and support maths teachers by bringing local volunteer engineers into the classroom to talk about the real-life applications of maths.

“The time has come for all of us to recognise and reward the careers that can make a real difference, such as teaching and engineering and stop glamourising the professions that have failed us”, said Mr Power.  

He was speaking as the Junior Certificate results showed a notable rise in numbers attempting higher-level mathematics.

Mr Power said that the results also showed there was still a clear need to do more to support students’ understanding of maths and to ensure teachers had the supports to teach the subject effectively.  “Our recent survey of members of the Irish Maths Teachers Association (IMTA) found that over three quarters of maths teachers said there should be more focus on maths at Junior Cycle.  The survey also revealed that over 75% thought students would benefit if maths teaching in schools was combined with industrial visits to view real-life application of maths.”  

“However, many teachers find it difficult to introduce such fieldtrips due to time restrictions and the recent cutbacks with regards to school trips,” said Power.  “It is incumbent on industry to do everything we can to help more students engage with maths through volunteer visits to schools, tutorials and other support materials so we can produce the engineers and business leaders of tomorrow. It is in this space that Engineers Ireland feels it can best support the teachers by mobilising our many hundreds of volunteer engineers around the country to visit their local school.”

Engineers Ireland runs a volunteer programme whereby engineers enter schools to talk about the application of maths in engineering every day, providing inspiration through real-life role models. The body has also worked with the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning (NCE-MSTL) at the University of Limerick to develop Continuing Professional Development (CPD) materials for teachers as part of the delivery of the national programme for the up-skilling of maths teachers.

Engineers Ireland is also extending its free maths tutorials from Dublin to centres in Cork and Galway from September 29.  The Engineers Ireland STEPS team, a strategic partner of the national Discover Science and Engineering programme, has also developed a range of support materials which are available on its website to assist maths teachers.  This includes online video tutorials for junior and senior cycle as well as worksheets.  

Teachers interested in organising a classroom visit by a volunteer engineer should visit www.steps.ie and register their details.

Engineers who wish to find out more about the STEPS volunteer programme are invited to visit http://steps.ie/volunteer