A leading international expert in the teaching of mathematics has expressed strong support for the new Project Maths syllabus, which is being rolled out in Irish secondary schools.

Professor Jo Boaler of Stanford University said approaches like Project Maths, which favour more hands on learning with real life examples, are definitely the way to go.

However, teacher John Brennan, a vocal critic of the new syllabus, said Project Maths would leave young people ill prepared for studying maths and engineering at third-level.

Prof Boaler is in Ireland addressing maths teachers and policy makers at the invitation of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Rejecting claims that the new syllabus is a dumbing down, she said it was the opposite.

She said young people were being given complex problems to work on, not just repeating procedures, and said this was much harder and more cognitively demanding.

Jo Boaler is the author of several books and numerous academic papers on the subject of how to engage children and young people with mathematics.

She said there was now a huge amount of evidence that just cramming children full of content did not work and led to many people being traumatised by their school maths experiences.