Maths laid bare for revision fun

12th March 2004 at 00:00
There's nothing like stripping a subject down to its bare essentials, as hundreds of giggling GCSE pupils have been discovering in recent weeks as teachers attempt to persuade them of the potential, er, real-life applications of mental arithmetic.

The government-backed maths initiative includes question like these: if a group of male strippers can persuade 1,000 women to watch their act, and each of these goggle-eyed guests pays pound;10 for the privilege, how much money will they make?

The conundrum, based on the hit film The Full Monty, about unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who turn to stripping, is an attempt to fire pupils'

interest in maths and inject some fun into revision classes.

Youngsters in Leeds have been exposed to an extract from the movie, where the stars discuss the possible economics of their future stage careers.

In the film, the question leaves the down-on-their luck protagonists scratching their heads. But the same does not apply to the pupils, according to the organisers of the Aimhigher revision classes, which have attracted 800 Year 11 youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The scene, and another one from the 1980s TV comedy Blackadder, are used to kick off a day of revision for pupils predicted to be on the A*A and CD grade borderlines in this summer's exams.

The events, which have been attended by pupils from 30 schools, have also involved the youngsters breaking into song as they try to commit potentially tricky mathematical concepts to memory.

For example, they are encouraged to reflect on the difference between the mode, median and the mean by singing about them to the tune of "Frere Jacques".

There are also invited to spot deliberate errors in a series of calculations and equations, in topics ranging from simultaneous equations to trigonometry and geometry.

But it was The Full Monty episode which has really been setting up the day for pupils, according to the event's organisers. Martin Dell, a maths adviser from Wakefield who led the sessions, said the only problem with using the video had been the need to delete swear words in the scene.

He added: "It's just a bit of fun, really, but it has been really effective in grabbing the pupils' attention and getting them geared up for what have been very successful sessions."

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