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Figure hugging with Monroe

Every remedial maths pupil knows that the squaw on the hippopotamus equals the sum of the squaws on the other two hides. Also, they don't do division, they do "guzinters" - because six "goes into" 60 ten times. And, though a tad sexist, top-heavy fractions are still made memorable by calling them Marilyn Monroes.

Imagination is a wonderful thing and the best maths teachers have pots of it. They know the beauty of maths is in the language as much as the numbers. So the back to boring (sorry, basics) lobby should back off.

The Mathematical Association is right to reprimand government advisers for a putative national numeracy strategy that ignores a decade of teaching improvements (page 12 and 13). The advisers get full marks for effort but, for achievement, in the words of the Eurovision Song Contest judges: "Nul points."

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