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# Thinking about mathematics education

I’m still waiting for that photograph that will allow me to brag! So here’s something to think about.

In the UK, after we teach children to count and do simple arithmetic what mathematics do we teach next?

In primary school we teach them the mathematics needed as preparation for mathematics at junior school.

In junior school we teach them the mathematics needed as preparation for mathematics at secondary school.

In secondary school we teach them the mathematics needed as preparation for GCSE mathematics.

In GCSE mathematics we teach them the mathematics needed as preparation for A level mathematics.

In A level mathematics we teach them the mathematics needed as preparation for a degree in mathematics.

In a mathematics degree we teach them the mathematics needed as preparation for a PhD in mathematics.

The extra facts are:

“Between 400 and 450 doctorates are awarded in the mathematical sciences

in the UK each year” [http://mathfit.ac.uk/activities/research_policy/documents/doc_training.pdf]

There are about 14.2 million pupils in education in the UK [Wolfram Alpha estimate for 2002]. (This seems a bit high to me. If I were to estimate the current amount, I would put it at 9 to 10 million, but what do I know?)

So in other words, the bulk of mathematics education in this country is targetted at the small number who go on to do a PhD. Is this a fair assessment of our education system?