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Source: Koerber Foundation For some, math is the ultimate horror, others see it as a subject like any other – or even enjoyed it. A survey by the Körber Foundation and ZEIT now shows how Germans actually think about mathematics and how they rate their teachers and their own abilities.

The good news first: Mathematics is not a hateful subject! 53 percent of all respondents * stated that mathematics was neither overly popular nor particularly off-putting. 21 percent even declare math to be their favorite subject. And only 26 percent never liked – or even hated – math. But regardless of the 53 percent in the midfield, the responses to the survey show some swings up or down in detail. Is math a “boy subject”? After all: 75 percent of those surveyed are of the opinion that mathematics is not a “boy subject”. However, 20 percent are convinced that the subject is more suited to the young. And it is well known from educational research that gender stereotypes work. This is also indicated by the information on the self-assessed competencies and achievements during school time: women more often perceive their school achievements in mathematics as below average (24 percent women, 17 percent men); Men, on the other hand, more often perceive their math performance as above average (28 percent men, 18 percent women). Against this background, Christiane Stork, Education Department at the Körber Foundation, explains: “It’s time for a MINT action plan for girls. Everyone involved in education is asked to take effective countermeasures – in parents’ homes, schools, companies, universities and in politics. «There is already a lighthouse project in Hamburg: the NAT initiative is empowering girls in middle school with the mint: pink program to decide on the MINT area – first in school, then also on the way to studies and work. How difficult is math? 20 percent of those surveyed consider their performance in mathematics to be below average. And about half of all respondents (48 percent) stated that they had problems following math lessons during their school days, half of them during middle school. The respondents gave themselves the worst grades for their skills in statistics, probability calculus and arithmetic with functions and their derivatives. At the same time, 45 percent of all respondents perceived maths lessons as “illuminating and profitable”, but 58 percent also as “arduous and exhausting”. The description of mathematics lessons as “close to everyday life” is incorrect for 61 percent of those surveyed, the characterization “exciting and lively” even for 65 percent. Stork therefore relies on a stronger practical focus: “Not all schools have an institution like the Giessener Mathematikum before Doorstep, but maybe universities are within reach, where you can also do some building, tinkering, modeling and construction. ”In Hamburg, for example, the TU Hamburg offers workshops on applied mathematics; For example, the school laboratory “Light & Schools” at the University of Hamburg is organizing a practical day on geocaching. What role did teachers play? Math teachers often get bad grades on average: 20 percent of those surveyed give their math teachers when they think of their final classes, the grades 4 to 6. But the math teachers’ assessment of the other subjects is rather inconspicuous: math teachers get an average grade of 2.6 – and are roughly on par with teachers in English , Sports and the natural sciences. The West-East comparison is the most striking: In eastern German regions, math teachers are rated more positively than in the west. Stork is also convinced that the teachers are what count. Therefore, investments must be made in teachers, for example through effective training and further education modules. “Long-term offers with several dates and process phases in which several colleagues from a school can participate,” demands Stork with a view to the MINT Young Talent Barometer 2020. And what about one’s own competence? Also the proportion of East Germans who In retrospect, the mathematics scores 1 and 2 is higher than the proportion of West Germans. For example in the field of geometry: 45 percent of the West German, but 57 percent of the East German respondents give themselves the grades 1 and 2. In the language of statisticians this means: The positive assessment of the teachers seems to correlate with their own positively assessed competence acquisition. Thomas Kerstan from ZEIT took the survey as an opportunity to talk to experts about whether there is a way to turn the supposedly hateful subject into a favorite subject. The article can be read in ZEIT on October 15, 2020. And in an interview with ZEIT, Olaf Köller, Director at the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) in Kiel and Head of Studies for the MINT Young Talent Barometer, spoke about this »Math problem« in Germany. * The survey is representative of the voting population aged 18 and over in Germany, 1010 people were interviewed. Survey period: 13 to 19 August 2020. It was commissioned by the Körber Foundation and DIE ZEIT and carried out by pmg – policy matters, Gesellschaft für Politikforschung und-beratung mbH.


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