Its generally agreed that for a whole variety of reasons there is a crisis in terms of Irish scientific and mathematical edication, resulting in students going into universities who struggle with the move from a more rote learning to a more scientific reasoning based learning approach. Indeed, there is a crisis in upskiling mathematics teachers who have (and this to me is shocking) no tertiary qualifications in mathematics. Engineers Ireland (with whom I have zero involvement btw) have talked about how engineers, applied mathematicians, can support mathematics education
Its also agreed that there is an unemployment crisis. We have 35,000 professional/technical on the live register. A goodly proportion of these must have tertiary education in areas such as engineering or other areas where mathematics in an applied sense are the bread and butter of the task. Without in any way denigrating higherlevel professional education qualifications, it cannot take more than three or four months to impart a set of focused mathematical pedagogic skills. Other countries do this. Clearly, on the job monitoring and evaluation will be needed, but can we not think outside the box and offer incentives to those with tertiary mathematical education to convert to teaching? We might indeed consider looking for people to teach physics, mechanics and other applied mathematics course, or even other science disciplines.
Lets take a couple of thousand engineers or mathematically intensive scientists on the dole, and offer them a 10% premium on the existing teacher salaries, plus free intensive pedagogic training, and deploy them into the second level school system, focused on bringing their experience to bear on the mathematics and science curricula. Of course, ASTI/TUI would explode…. But this would be an opportunity to see whether the system can think outside the box and in a joined up manner. Lets also up the incentive to students, giving bonus points for math, and extra vonus points for taking more than one math subject (say 10% on each subject cumulative, so someone who take say physics, mechanics and math gets a 30% bonus on each ). There is a need and a resource that with some imagination can be brought together. Can we as a polity do this? I doubt it can.