Maths opens the doors

10th March 2000 at 00:00
PROFESSOR John MacBeath's reported comments, "Maths is not a plus", (TESS, March 3) reminded me of my early days in teaching when pupils were allowed to abandon their mathematical education after S2. I used to advise pupils considering this to take themselves off to a quiet place, where, if they listen carefully, they can hear the sound of doors closing - a veritable drum roll.

Mathematics "is great for people who want to become mathematicians", yes, but also for future

physicists, engineers, chemists, surveyors, doctors, nurses, pilots, astronauts, scientists, geographers, statisticians, and so on, even, maybe, education researchers.

Professor MacBeath does not seem to be completely familiar with current Standard grade curses, none of which, features calculus. It is possible to gain a 4 without oppressive contact with algebra, geometry and trigonometry. A few minutes spent speed reading the Higher Still arrangements, concentrating on the statistics provision at various levels, should allow him to refresh what appears to be a grossly distorted view of current mathematics.

How far does the good professor intend to go? Are we to anticipate a recommendation that English be recast in two components so that pupils who find literature either demanding or uncongenial can abandon it to concentrate on writing CVs and letters requesting medical assistance for a postilion recently struck by lightning?

David McLaren

Prestonfield, Milngavie


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