Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) has been asked by Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) to develop a mathematics course aimed at sixth formers that focuses on real world problems.
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As compared to other countries, the UK has relatively low participation on mathematics past 16. The idea is for students who would be unlikely to study A-level mathematics, to continue to study mathematics past GCSE along side other subjects.
Professor Timothy Gowers, of Cambridge University, in his blog, wrote about teaching mathematics to non-mathematicians with the focus on real problems. Many of these ideas will be incorporated into the MEI syllabus.
Professor Timothy Gowers
Professor Tim Gowers’s brilliant blog has sparked huge interest in how we could radically improve maths teaching. I am delighted that MEI is trying to develop the Gowers blog into a real course that could help thousands of students understand the power of mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
A sample problem
A doctor tests a patient for a serious disease that one in ten thousand people have. The test is fairly reliable: if you have the disease, it gives a positive result, whereas if you don’t, then it gives a negative result in 99% of cases. So the only problem with it is that it occasionally gives a false positive. The patient tests positive. How worrying is this?
Expanding post-16 participation in mathematics: Developing a curriculum to promote mathematical problem solving, MEI press release (opens PDF)