Neat and narrow

8th December 1995 at 00:00
Heinemann Modular Mathematics, Statistics 2. By Greg Attwood and Gill Dyer. - 0 435 51812 7.

Pure Mathematics 2. By Geoff Mannall and Gill Dyer. - 0 4351808 9.

Mechanics 2. By John Hebbon and Joan Littlewood. - 0 435 51804 6.

Heinemann Pounds 8.99 each Advanced Modular Mathematics Statistics 1. By Gerald Westover. Pounds 8.50. - 0 00 322397 3

Mechanics 2 By Stephen Webb. Pounds 8.50. - 0 00 322400 7.

Pure Mathematics 3 and 4. Pounds 14.50. - 0 00 322396 5.

Collins AEB Mathematics, Further Mathematics. Heinemann Pounds 13.50. - 0 435 51609 4 Age range 16 plus

David Monks follows the trend to write textbooks for a particular syllabus.

These books form part of a developing trend in A-level resources that have been written for a particular syllabus: in this case, the current London Modular A-level, and the AEB A-level, due to be examined for the first time next year.

Heinemann's Pure Mathematics 2 has been written for the P2 examination and Statistics 2 for the T2 examination of the London syllabus. Each book gives clear guidelines for finding topics and neat summaries of key points. As in all good textbooks, copious exercises give ample opportunity for consolidation and extension and, because the series is written by practising examiners of the course, examples and advice are both direct and extremely useful.

Teachers used to the more investigative style of the new 16 to 19 and Nuffield courses will find these materials narrow in their approach and lacking opportunities to exploit new technologies. For example, using the latest graphic calculators would clarify and deepen understanding of the topics. While there is nothing to preclude their use, some positive encouragement would have been valuable.

Pure Mathematics 3 4, Statistics 1 and Mechanics 2, published by Collins with the National Extension College, is also aimed at the London Modular course. Because of the connection with the NEC, these books offer a more useful resource for revision and their declared philosophy of flexible learning puts the students in charge of their learning. A more mature and independent readership is reflected in the style of the text.

The pure mathematics here includes such basics as series, trigonometry, integration, vectors, complex numbers and hyperbolic functions - a more specialist non core topic. Chapter summaries are clear and easily related to the text and syllabus.

I particularly liked Statistics as an introduction to data analysis. Mechanics 2 develops the process of modelling further, building confidence in an important and often difficult area.

These books are very useful resources for teachers and could serve as supplementary texts for students able to use them independently, whether or not they are following the London syllabus.

Further Mechanics, written by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching at Exeter University, contains lots of examples for the AEB syllabus. The approach is a little dry but clear and easy to follow. Once again the book contains exercises and exam questions taken from AEB papers supported by fully detailed solutions.

All these books have been published at a time of innovation and change at A-level. We are all thinking very carefully about what we teach and how we resource it. We want high standards and rigour, but we should also break new ground. We must attract new students and inspire old hands.

David Monks is head of mathematics at Hampstead School, north London.

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