Spice is a minus

February 7, 2003

The way to an adolescent's mathematical heart is through the staple diet he or she is fed ("Your task: identify the falling interest rate in mathematics", THES , January 31). Yet official reports consistently ignore the real weakness of our staple maths diet and take refuge in advocating more "spice" such as "21st-century science" and museum visits.

In complaining that mathematics suffers "from the lack of a TV champion, a Simon Schama or a Lord Winston", it seems that Adrian Smith's post-14 review of mathematics has already jumped on the same bandwagon.

Perhaps Smith should ask Simon Singh whether he believes "TV champions" are a substitute for improving the basic mathematical diet in schools and for supporting good teachers.

Tony Gardiner
Education chair
European Mathematical Society

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