Focus on language, mathematics in all school subjects: Education Council
Teachers must emphasize language and mathematics in all other subjects at school because only doing so in language and maths lessons is not enough to learn. The two subjects should be the joint responsibility of all teachers. The Education Council said that in new advice it presented on Thursday. Children’s skills in the two subjects have been a source of concern for many years in primary education, secondary education, and secondary vocational education.
Tackling these subjects as broadly as now proposed will be a win-win situation, the Council expects. “Other subjects offer context and opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills in language and mathematics. And vice versa, mastery of language and mathematics is a necessary condition for progress in other subjects and areas of learning,” the Education Council said.
Good teachers are, of course, indispensable. Therefore, at the end of teacher training courses, student teachers must be tested on their own mathematics and language skills and their ability to provide good education in these fields. The Education Council recommends “a compulsory central test for language and maths for teacher training colleges and second-level teacher training courses in Dutch and mathematics. The final test must contain a theoretical and practical component.”
The Council also wants more and continuous efforts in professionalizing teachers. Also, the command of language and mathematics “must be systematically monitored in order to be able to structurally evaluate and improve education in this area.” And “crystal clear goals” for language and math education should be set.
According to the Council, teachers should also be enabled to work with each other and with experts to design good language and math education. Sufficient attention must also be paid to the quality of the teaching materials and how they are used.
“To improve sustainably, a different perspective is needed. We have to look beyond the quality of isolated language and math lessons. And continuously focus on pupils' and students' mastery of language and math. So that expensive recovery operations are not necessary again and again,” summarized Edith Hooge, the chairman of the Education Council.
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, asked the Education Council for advice after alarming reports about children’s deteriorating language and maths skills.