Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 129)



  120. So it would be better to do only the maths you need for the science you are doing, not do it as a sort detached thing?
  (Clare Dawe) Yes.
  (Tim Crocker-Buque) Although maths on its own is still useful and it is very important to do maths as a subject on its own. If you just do maths for chemistry or maths for physics, you miss out on lots of important maths which may come into use later in life.

  121. Like what?
  (Tim Crocker-Buque) For degree level. You miss out, for example, calculus if you do not do maths on its own. You miss out on a lot of that because it is not relevant to science at A-level. When you get to degree level, if you have not got a basis in maths then you will have to learn it all then. So maths on its own is still a very, very useful subject.

  122. Do you think, Rubens, that people are not knowledgeable enough about maths?
  (Rubens Reis) I think they should be more knowledgeable.

  123. What use would it be to them?
  (Rubens Reis) You can end up with a good job with maths by itself, so I think people should learn maths on its own and also for science.

  124. Do you think, for instance, if you take something like the controversial MMR vaccine, people have the attitude, "I am not absolutely certain it is safe, therefore I am not going to have it." Should that person learn more maths or not?
  (Rubens Reis) No, I think that is more ethics. That does not fall into maths.

  125. That is not a maths issue? Do you think it is at this moment? It is okay to say no.
  (Tim Crocker-Buque) No, I do not think that comes into maths.

  126. The evaluation of risk?
  (Tim Crocker-Buque) It is a statistical thing.

  127. You just told me you were doing that. What about you, Clare? Do you think that is true?
  (Clare Dawe) I have been told to say yes!

  128. We do that as well.
  (Clare Dawe) In some ways yes but, as they were saying, maths is only useful if that is what you want to go into. It gives you a good basis for most things but if you want to do an English degree then it is not going to be that much use. Most every day situations include a little bit of maths, but as long as you have got the basics there you can always improve on them. As long as you understand the basics then you can work with the basics.

  129. Thank you for your answers and for taking on a very difficult subject. Well done.
  (Clare Dawe) Thank you.

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