Higher numbers

6th November 1998 at 00:00
HEINEMANN HIGHER MATHEMATICS. By David Clarke, Douglas Goodall and John Dalton. Heinemann Pounds 11.99.

MATHEMATICS IN ACTION: higher mathematics. Alex Robertson et al. Nelson Pounds 11.99.

MATHEMATICS IN ACTION: statistics for higher mathematics. By Ralph Riddiough and Deanne Thomas. Nelson Pounds 7.99.

These textbooks have been written to meet the requirements of the new "Higher Still" Higher maths syllabus, which will operate in Scottish schools from next summer. Not surprisingly, the first two are remarkably alike, with virtually interchangeable contents lists.

Each is divided into three units corresponding to the three units of the Higher course, and each unit consists of chapters dealing with the separate learning outcomes required. Chapters are subdivided into sections covering the performance criteria listed in the national unit specifications. There are extremely useful revision exercises, unit assessments and course assessments.

From the purely organisational point of view, both texts are excellent. The authors have done their homework, and the books should both prove useful, particularly during the first year or two of the new examination requirements, when teachers will still be familiarising themselves with the new arrangements.

The style of each book is slightly different, with the Nelson volume being very similar to its predecessor Maths in Action 5S. The Heinemann book introduces the theory of the course in a more investigative way, and has more examples in its exercises.

My lasting impression of both is that their content does not seem very new or radically different from what I am already using.

As principal maths teacher in a large secondary school, I ask myself two questions. Can I afford to spend more than Pounds 1,000 on textbooks which,however well organised, contain little new material? Or will I just buy half a dozen copies of each book to help my staff get organised for the new examination procedures? I think I know the answers.

Statistics for Higher Mathematics is the only book I have seen that is tailor-made for Higher Still statistics at this level.

But I have two minor complaints. First, several exercises seem to contain too few examples.

Second, no table of random numbers is provided, even though the book refers to them several times.

Peter Shannon Peter Shannon is principal teacher of mathematics at Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh Noinchoat Excellent organisation ensures this book matches the course requirements perfectly, and this alone is enough to recommend it strongly to any school planning to include this unit into Higher course.

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