Financial pressures and the desire to cut costs are often cited as the reason to abandon the use of individual textbooks in maths teaching, with many schools preferring to have children sharing books or even project text onto a whiteboard. However, research shows that without an individual textbook, children fail to interact with the text to the same level as those who have access to their own copy. This delivers poorer results in assessments and less willingness to continue with mathematics in further education. Is it really not worth investing in this critical resource?
Why are we failing our children in the fundamental teaching of mathematics in so many of our schools? Why do we deem the teaching of English and History more worthy of financial investment?
From my time in the classroom, the evidence becomes clear – when you deny a child a book of their own, the benefits of reading are diminished. Just like English, Mathematics is a language with a vocabulary and conventions that need to be mastered. As with any language, the learning is in the talking, the reading and the writing to achieve mastery. By having access to their own textbook, every student can reflect on what they’ve heard in the classroom and see how it is written down. As an adult, how many times have you tried to read instructions with a partner or family member and said ‘give them here’ and read them yourself, at your own pace, taking in the information? It’s to the benefit of all learners to absorb information through the written word.