France wants to become a champion of artificial intelligence — and it starts by changing the way maths is taught at school

France wants to become a champion of artificial intelligence — and it starts by changing the way maths is taught at school

In high-frequency trading, in the space industry and in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, mastery of mathematics is essential.

However, France — under the leadership of its President Emmanuel Macron – aims to become a leader in the field of AI. But according to the latest Timss survey, French CM1 students rank last in Europe in mathematics.

The deputy and Fields medalist Cédric Villani, together with the Inspector General of National Education Charles Torossian, must therefore soon deliver a report of 21 proposals for France to catch up in teaching maths at school, the JDD revealed yesterday.

In this report, which the JDD was able to consult in preview, the authors thus recommend to draw largely from Singapore, the first country in the world ranking in mathematics, to restore its coat of arms.

The following are the main recommendations of this report:

  • Further training future teachers in mathematics, with a training that would begin as soon as the license, just after the baccalaureate and by multiplying by five the volume of hours devoted to mathematics in initial training. In France, school teachers receive 80 hours of math lessons in initial training, compared to 400 for their colleagues in Singapore.
  • Changing the way maths is taught, inspired by the Singaporean method that follows the following three steps: manipulate, verbalize and think in abstract terms.
  • Introduce and cultivate the meaning of the four basic math operations from the preparatory class, because scientists have proved that the child’s brain develops the intuition of numbers very early.

Cedric Villani and the Inspector General of National Education Charles Torossian also suggest the creation of math laboratories in 200 pilot colleges and high schools, so that school teachers can experiment, share their knowledge and attend academic conferences.

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