Letter: How maths can help arts specialists

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The Independent Online
Sir: Howard Simmons (letter, 26 August) proposes that most people don't need maths beyond elementary arithmetic. Well, surely, neither do they need skills in reading and writing beyond that of an average 14-year-old, nor knowledge of history, the arts, music or foreign languages.

But maths makes a unique and particularly valuable contribution to general education, in that it is the only field in which muddled or simply erroneous thinking is clearly exposed for what it is. The student is able to get feedback on the soundness of his or her problem-solving efforts in a way that cannot be provided in other fields.

In my experience, most people are significantly handicapped by deficient problem-solving skills and also by gross ignorance of probability, statistics and mechanics (which is not about grease and car wheels).

If everyone studied maths till leaving school, then 'arts' specialists could be more competent and perhaps less arrogant.

Yours sincerely,

ROBIN P. M. CLARKE

Birmingham

26 August

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