Mathematical Cultures
March 11th 2014

Mathematical Cultures

How mathematics is perceived by pupils is really important in whether or not they decide to continue studying it. Many pupils decide very early in their school life that maths is not for them, that it is too hard or too abstract.

Yet we know that maths is universally useful. It’s useful not just for the arithmetic you learn, but for the problem solving skills.

The perception of mathematics in wider culture is part of the problem where you are seen as someone who can do maths, or you can’t. There is no middle ground. We frequently hear people declare “I can’t do maths” in a way that would seem odd if they could not read.

How this situation has come about and what we can do is a particular research interest of mine. This April I will be travelling to London to give a paper at an academic philosophy of mathematics conference on mathematics within STEM eduction. I’ll be particularly looking at how maths is presented in STEM fairs.

Wish me luck!

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