Let’s talk about maths ...

Mathematics is becoming increasingly important in everyday life.
Mathematics is becoming increasingly important in everyday life.
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A group set up to challenge negative attitudes towards mathematics is aiming to encourage greater enthusiasm for the subject amongst children and young people, their parents, carers and the wider public.

The Making Maths Count expert group, established by Education Secretary Angela Constance to promote enthusiasm for maths, is calling for public views through an online questionnaire.

The group, which brings together expertise from industry, academia and science, has been tasked with identifying which factors can create negative attitudes towards maths, before making its recommendations on how to improve the nation’s enthusiasm for the subject and increase levels of participation.

Ms Constance said: “We need to promote greater enthusiasm for, and confidence in, maths and numeracy across society, but particularly among young people and their parents.

“Maths and numeracy will only become more important as sectors such as digital technologies continue to grow.

“I hope people will get involved in this discussion so we can get new ideas on promoting maths and numeracy, and how we address some of the myths and assumptions that still exist.

“We cannot have outdated stereotypes or views limiting the potential of any young person in Scotland.”

Maureen McKenna, executive director of education in Glasgow, and chair of the group, added: “I’ve strived throughout my working life to promote mathematics teaching and am proud to love maths.

“It would be great if everybody felt positive and confident about maths, but we know they don’t.

“Negative perceptions and stereotypes about maths are not hard to find; saying you can’t do maths is sometimes even seen as something to boast about.

“These attitudes are holding us back. In a world where the role and impact of technology and science is soaring, we must make sure everyone realises that being able to understand and work with numbers is vital.

“Sound maths skills lead to better decision-making, whether it’s balancing your finances, planning a trip, or being able to engage with so many of the big debates in our world today, from climate change to the economy.

“And beyond this, as we’ll be showing people over the coming months, maths skills are also a route into an array of exciting and varied careers.”

The group’s short questionnaire looks into people’s feelings towards maths, along with which aspects of maths people are using and what would make them more enthusiastic about the subject.

Individuals of all ages are being encouraged to contribute their thoughts, with a separate questionnaire for those aged under 16.

The feedback will form part of the evidence the Making Maths Count group will use as a basis for the recommendations it will make when it reports back to the government later this year.

Click here to complete the Making Maths Count questionnaire.