Mathematics suffers deeply from a “bad reputation” among students: too difficult, useless, etc. Students think that mathematics is too theoretical to be useful for anything in their life, resulting in poor attention and performance. They really don’t consider that mathematics is one of the most important subjects they need to study for their future career, as it will increase their job choices.
The traditional theoretical didactic approach applied for the subject of mathematics in schools (i.e. passive transmission-acceptance of knowledge from teacher to students), having as primary source of information the teacher, as well as textbook, has proven incomprehensible for a large number of students and insufficient for both cognitive concepts and other critical skills (like team work, problem solving, analytic-synthetic-critical thinking, creativity and communication).
The PISA results (2012) show that 22.1%, i.e. more than one out of five students in Europe, had low performance in maths, meaning that they were not equipped with the basic skill necessary for numerous valuable jobs in our current economy. The relative percentages in partner countries are even more worse, Romania 40,8%, Greece 35,69%, Portugal 24,91%. The Commission has the objective to lower this number to 15% in 2020 but, so far, in many countries compared to the previous PISA tests the progression is very weak. These numbers are not only results of the PISA tests but they also arise on a daily basis in math teachers’ experience in classroom. Our students can’t use almost anything of what they learned at school in their daily life. The problem is not just a lack of abilities among European students but also a lack of interest in mathematics.
While several pilot initiatives are actually taking place in order to increase the interest and performance of the young students towards Mathematics, it is important to point out that there is still a lack of a systematic approach to the issue, especially in the southern part of Europe. The EU has published in 2011 a very important document, “Mathematics Education in Europe: Common Challenges and National Policies” from the Eurydice network, which points out the importance of the learner’s motivation and engagement. This need is the target of our proposal, i.e. to enhance the attractiveness of Mathematics for students, addressing in this way the necessity to ensure the labor market with a more adequate number of engineers and technologists.