Moral side of data;Secondary;Maths Year 2000;Books

1st October 1999 at 01:00
THE MATHS AND HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCE BOOK. Edited by Peter Wright. Amnesty International. pound;5 including postage. From: Dan Jones, Education officer, Amnesty International (UK), 99-119 Roseberry Avenue, London EC1R 4RE.

There are few resources that encourage teachers to develop the spiritual, moral and cultural dimension of learning mathematics, so The Maths and Human Rights Resource Book will be a valuable addition to the resources of secondary maths departments.

It contains 30 activities for key stages 3 and 4, each of which is referenced against an article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Many examine a particular issue: in one activity pupils are asked to conduct a survey of what boys and girls think about maths; another explores the consequences of using different voting systems. Several offer the opportunity to use key stage 3 data handling tools to analyse and interpret some real data.

For example, a set of activities called "The World in Numbers" invites pupils to examine data about health and education in different countries. Not all the activities will be equally useful in a particular classroom and teachers may find that they need to adapt the ideas to their own circumstances. However, there are many good ideas here and many of the activities could be extended or developed to provide starters for GCSE coursework. A collection of multicultural activities in the final section of the book emphasises contributions from different cultures to the development of mathematics, while others explore the mathematics of games from various communities around the world.

The teacher's notes are helpful and supportive, although a little prescriptive in places. There are clear learning objectives for each activity with links to the national curriculum. I particularly liked some of the suggestions about how you can develop discussion of the moral and ethical issues arising from the activity. I strongly recommend this book for its good ideas and an alternative perspective on the opportunities that can arise from teaching and learning mathematics in school.

Peter Johnston-Wilder

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