Maths as others see it
Video: Click to view clip on Whittington Hospital in north London
Transcript: Whittington Hospital
Activity 4
This video clip was recorded in the Whittington Hospital in north London. You will see a series of short sequences in which people respond to questions concerning their own views of mathematics. However, the clip also shows extended sequences in which three people (pictured below) talk about their work in the hospital.

As you watch and listen to Trevor, Emma and Mark, make a note of mathematical ideas to which they refer.

What mathematical skills and ideas do they use?

Do you think they are consciously using mathematics?


As you listen, make a note of any responses about people's view of mathematics which strike you as unusual or particularly interesting.

Are the responses similar to your own?

Do these responses seem to you typical of the population as a whole?


When the clip has finished look back over the notes you have made and check to see whether you have answered the questions above. If necessary view any parts of the video band again and add to your notes. Also think about the pros and cons of using video in this way.
Answer

Trevor Arnold talks about the need to estimate and measure distances, areas and times. The spreadsheet he created uses hidden formulas which instruct the computer to carry out the routine calculations that he previously did by hand.
Emma Prescott uses mathematics to help her estimate the drop of haemoglobin levels in her patients. By recording how far levels have fallen, she is able to predict when the next blood transfusion will be necessary. She also calculates necessary drug dosages and volumes of intravenous infusions. She uses probability when explaining the likelihood of passing on the disease to a patient's offspring. You will have seen her twice using simple diagrams to convey mathematical ideas—an important theme of this course.
Although Mark Hanson is not consciously using mathematics, he is using a range of mathematical skills as he schedules the time he has available, estimates the lengths of record tracks, subtracts them from the time available, and so on.

When first asked about their attitudes to mathematics, the responses were fairly varied; some people had positive memories of school mathematics while others disliked it or found it boring. You may also have noticed that at the beginning of the videotape most people viewed maths in a rather narrow way—in fact, they tended to see it simply as basic arithmetic applied to everyday situations. As the video unfolds, these perceptions of mathematics became extended. Indeed, all the hospital workers interviewed were prepared, by the end, to think of their jobs more mathematically than they had at the beginning of the video.
Whether or not the views expressed are similar to yours, they may well seem to be typical of the population as a whole. However, this is just a small selection of people and it was not chosen as a representative sample of the whole population. They all came from one particular hospital in one particular area in London. Can you be sure that people's views of mathematics are not influenced by the circumstances of the interview or the nature of their job or the area in which they live?

You may care to read again the comments about using video that were given before Activity 4.