News from the world of maths: The cost of failing our maths students

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How do you persuade a nation that basic maths skills are just as important as being able to read and write? You put a price tag on them. This is what the accounting firm KPMG has done in a report published last week. The firm estimated that the soring number of people who leave school without adequate numeracy skills could cost the UK taxpayer up to £2.4 billion every year.

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posted by Plus @ 12:38 PM

8 Comments:

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with maths goes back to the Higher School Regulations which strictly divided subjects into Arts and Sciences, with Maths regarded as one of the Sciences and therefore could not be studied with Arts subjects. As it happens most of the Chemists and Physicists do not like Maths anyway, so maths is either not studied at all or it is treated as a highly specialist subject only suitable for autistic nerds.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Marianne Freiberger, Plus editor said...

That's a very good point. When I was at school (in Germany) I specialised in maths and art, but most teachers advised me against this, saying that it would be better to put all my eggs into either the science or the arts basket, where maths was counted as a science. Though the division between arts/humanities and science wasn't enforced (in fact, officially it was discouraged) it existed in practice, so to many of those not into science maths didn't even occur as an option.

 
At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anna Faherty said...

While I think putting a cost to low numeracy skills is quite smart in terms of getting governments and big business to stump up some cash, I wonder how all those math-phobic people will react to the use of numbers (albeit with pound signs in front of them) to show that maths is important?

Maybe KPMG or Barclays would like to give some money to help support Plus too?

 
At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Marianne, Plus Editor said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Marianne, Plus Editor said...

Good idea, Anna! Plus is happy to consider donations of any size.

 
At 1:53 AM, Blogger Efrique said...

"soring"? How did that survive a spellcheck?

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Marianne, Plus Editor said...

Not sure, but it's dead now.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Terry Schooling said...

I believe the problem with numeracy and maths in general lies in the way it is taught in our schools. The subject is taught to enable students to pass examinations with little reference to its utility throughout life as a series of problem solving techniques. The article sums it up very well by highlighting "the gap between what people think maths is and what it could actually do for them". This is a philosophy that I raise with my grandchildren when helping them with there homework. Let's emphasise the rigour a bit less in favour of the application of maths.

 

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