Letter: Risks of life

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor Margaret Brown (letter, 10 December) calls for wider debate about the mathematical skills we should be teaching our children to prepare them for citizenship in the next century.

A recent report prepared for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Children's Mathematical Understanding of Risk by Michael Barnett and Richard Noss ) has shown how children are ill prepared for considering the mathematics of risk, and how a richer mathematical curriculum which includes the study of probability might be exploited to educate children in the assessment of risk.

What a shame then, that the Government's drive for basic "numeracy" continues to displace ideas like probability from the primary mathematics curriculum in favour of basic numerical skills.

RoSPA recommends that risk assessment should be regarded as a life skill to help effective decision making to control risk in any context, whether it is eating a T-bone steak, having casual sex or crossing the road.

MARTIN GOMBERG

Education Adviser

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Birmingham

RICHARD NOSS

Professor of Mathematics Education

University of London

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