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Why x+y= zzzzz . . . .


I am not sure why you asked the question as to whether maths is relevant as Antony Oliver gives the answer in his editorial of the 21 November. Of course he could answer the first two questions in the survey; those of us from the days of yore were expected to cope with that level of maths at the age of 16.

I suspect the problem lies with convoluted and dumbed down teaching of maths that is apparent in our secondary schools today, leaving the universities to pick up the pieces and concentrate more than they did on getting their students up to standard.

Some years ago I was returning from a Joint Board of Moderators visit to the National University of Singapore, with academic colleagues Professor Adrian Long and the late Fulton Lee. We were discussing the fact that the students were frightfully numerate but the graduates appeared to lack engineering nous.

I put the maths question to my academic colleagues and Fulton, who was a wise old bird, told me that maths was a language and you needed that language, rather than the maths itself, to solve engineering problems.

Donald A Wroe (F), Barnside, Bouth, Ulverston, LA12 8JB

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