The Herald reported last week that class disruptions and a lack of exposure to algebra and geometry are some of the issues linked to New Zealand slipping from 13th to 22nd in OECD maths ratings.
This was based on a three-part Ministry of Education report on maths class learning environments, in turn based on the findings of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment 2012 (Pisa).
Many high school students think mathematics should not require a tutor, extra time or hard work to achieve a B or B- grade (merit in our current system). The main problems I and my peers (over three public schools) find are:
The standard of teaching is usually poor;
Children are discouraged from caring about education from a young age; and
The NCEA system was not designed to further knowledge - it is in place for easy marking and to enable the Ministry of Education to publish "desirable" results.
The job of a teacher is not to keep a class under control, having students listen quietly while he or she drones on in a text-book fashion and writes on the board. The job of a teacher is to help us do the best we can, to instil a sense of achievement and motivation, and, above all, to care about their students.
If you're an adult from another time, you may have trouble reading this on my level. But that is just the kind of thinking that got us into trouble in the first place.
Any student will tell you that their favorite teachers are the ones who go above and beyond their pay grade.
They bring new concepts to class, actively engage with all students and keep the ball rolling to maintain a level of interest in their topic.
Exposure to poor teaching is what turns us kids off school - that makes class "boring", "a waste of time" or "too easy to bother with".
The problem is not that the teachers do not know their subject. The problem is that many of them do not know how to engage with a class, to see teenagers as human beings who deserve respect.
Many do not put effort into all of their students. By this I mean that many teachers are happy to let children sit on "achieved" grades. Teachers should always push kids to try harder for themselves, not for what's on the paper. Letting children believe they're bad students or stupid is likely to set up roadblocks for adult life and impact their self-esteem.
Every student is capable of finding interest in school. Every teacher should be capable of inspiring their class. We are capable of fostering a system based on exploration, discovery and mutual respect.
As far as mathematics goes, my tutor says it is ridiculous that we split mathematics into numeracy, algebra and statistics so early. I agree that we should keep mathematics a core subject until Year 13, enabling more students to gain better understanding of areas like algebra, statistics and geometry.
The point of doing well is not to get into university or to have nice marks on your paper. The point is showing us that young people matter as individuals, and that our teachers believe in our ability to push the boundaries of learning.
• Anna Collett is a Year 13 student at Wellington High School.