978-1-4730-0607-2 (.epub)

I am never quite sure that I have understood what the figures mean. I tend to skip over the graphs or charts that I come across, hoping that I can get the information I need from the text.

I wouldn't say I have learnt a great deal more since school and regret not having a better grounding in it. When faced with a problem I feel confident if the problem is within the realms of my capability. However, I do know that I end up going the long way round. Or as we say in Guernsey, I go round Sark to get to Herm (two islands off Guernsey). I am constantly worried about the use of maths – I always presume that I will get simple problems wrong if numbers are involved. We were mixed-ability taught in all subjects in the first year, but after that we were rigidly grouped according to ability and, as expected, I ended up in one of the lower maths groups, where I remained for the rest of my time at secondary school. Any chance of improving my mathematical skills were also limited by the school deciding we were a lost cause, and being taught by a procession of some of the most eccentric and disinterested teachers I have ever met.

On reflection I suspect that I have spent most of my working life sidestepping anything vaguely connected with maths and have consequently developed a number of avoidance techniques. These range from ‘I am busy at the moment, I am not sure what you want to know, try to work it out yourself’, through to ‘I haven't got my glasses’ – all very similar to the techniques employed by those who have difficulty in reading. If I see a pure mathematics problem then I don't attempt it. I tend not to be drawn to articles in newspapers/TV that have a mathematical focus. I was good at hiding within the class… I usually stay quiet and I would never contemplate a job where I would have to add up in front of others. I am not terribly confident when presented with certain sets of figures, but, if I work through it carefully, I can usually cope with it.

I have just started a science course, so I know I will need to improve my skills. I am aware that presumed difficulties with maths prevent me from attempting certain aspects of the course. Basic skills could help my confidence, though I feel it may be too late to start. (Arts student.) In my previous course, I was studying German. My ideas about what mathematics meant to me were not even considered and did not develop throughout. My next course (Third World Development) will be different, but I haven't started it yet.

23, 28, 25, 30, 18, 29, 23, 19, 30, 24, 25, 21, 26, 25, 23

22 000, 22 000, 25 000, 28 000, 35 000, 65 000, 92 000

1, 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 24 | This set of nine values is arranged in ascending order and the median is 8. |

32, 25, 20, 16, 14, 11, 9, 9, 4, 0 | This set of 10 values is arranged in descending order and here the median is (14 + 11) + 2, which is 12.5. |

0, 0, 0, 4, 7, 10, 12, 15, 24, 30, 42, 48

The median = (10 + 12) + 2 = 11 | The mean = 192 ÷ 12 = 16 |

0, 0, 0, 3, 0, 1, 1, 2, 0, 2, 0, 0, 4, 0, 1, 2, 0, 2

0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4

One specialist I spoke to reckons that the rate could rise to over 50% within the next 20 years. A quick look at the graph suggests he could be right.

Discussion 2020051800