Make maths count 1

September 20, 2002

Jonathan Osborne (Letters, THES , September 13) must have known that his closing swipe at Tony Gardiner ("Policy does not add up", THES , September 6) saying "perhaps he would care to put his own house in order - the recent AS debacle in mathematics having done little to inspire confidence in current prescriptions for mathematics education", was cheap and unjust.

Gardiner is responsible neither for AS mathematics nor for "current prescriptions". Alas, bureaucrats and politicians who do bear responsibility may be attracted by the bureacratisation and politicisation of maths and science that Osborne proposes.

Gardiner wants pupils to do maths and science; Osborne wants them to talk about it. Osborne concedes that the "intellectually able and the future scientist" are to be allowed the real thing, but "the rest" are not. Dividing school students into a superior class and a residual rump is shameful, limiting and unnecessary. A healthy real system provides maths and science - not rote-learning - for all.

Charles Goldie
School of Mathematical Sciences
University of Sussex

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