Jiva Technology

Is the UK Chancellor a Jiva Blog Reader?

Who knew that the UK Chancellor was such an avid reader of the Jiva blog? A matter of days after publishing a blog post reiterating the importance of maths, Chancellor Philip Hammond stands up in the UK Parliament and tells the country, “maths matters”. Whats more, Mr Hammond has backed up his words with cash. Schools get an £600 for every  pupil who sits A Level maths and teachers in certain areas will get an extra £1,000 towards professional development. Its all good stuff and naturally, the folks at Jiva will claim the credit for the government’s actions. Now all we need to see is a bit more action further down the school years, at primary level. If we’re going to have more people capable of passing maths A level, we need more encouragement in the early years. Its unlikely that a 16 yo who’s had little encouragement to enjoy Maths is suddenly going to be enthused when the school suggests it for A level. But thats a conversation for another day, lets be thankful for small mercies.

Maths is really a ‘language’

Too many people seem to struggle with maths. My kids always roll their eyes when I talk about the beauty of algebra and would no doubt look incomprehensibly if I moved on to the elegance of calculus.

I’ve long thought that one of the basic problems is how we talk about the subject. In fact, I’d argue that we shouldn’t see maths as a subject at all. It isn’t, it’s a language. By understanding the language of maths, you open up the worlds of science, finance, engineering and even design. It allows architects to communicate difficult concepts to one another and it allows engineers to put astronauts on the moon and physicists to probe the depths of our universe. The power of the language of maths lies in what it helps us achieve. But when you’re starting a journey, doesn’t it make sense to know where you’re going? Perhaps we should stop telling our children that they need to learn maths because a). they have to and b). it will be really useful (without telling them why). Maybe we should spend 3 months talking about all the cool things they could do if they learn the language.

Without a firm grasp of the language of maths we’re consigning our children to a life at the hands of unscrupulous banks (percentages on loans), politicians (statistics) and sales people (basic mental maths). We demand that people living in the UK speak English as a basic form of communication, but isn’t it time we woke up to the fact that the whole world lives in Maths Land?

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