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Professorial Lecture Series: puzzling over mathematics

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Words
Jane Munro
Published
22 August 2010
Is the world divided into those who can do maths and those who can’t?

Professor and director of Teaching and Learning at Southern Cross University, Professor Janet Taylor, said many people believe that it is, but only because the discipline sometimes receives ‘bad press’.

Professor Taylor will be delivering a public lecture as part of the Southern Cross University Professorial Lecture Series on the subject of ‘Higher education for all – is mathematics part of the puzzle?’ at Southern Cross University Lismore campus on Thursday, August 26 at 5.30pm. The lecture will also be video streamed to the Coffs Harbour and Gold Coast campuses.

“The popular view of mathematics is often a rigid formal one, composed of numbers and incomprehensible formulas but wider views of mathematics and its close relation, quantitative literacy, see it is an essential tool of empowerment in our society and in others,” Professor Taylor said.

“I will be examining the question in my lecture of how we can change this popular view so that mathematics can be seen as an enabler rather than a disabler."

Professor Taylor referred to the recent Bradley Review of Higher Education that expressed a view that higher education should expand to reach groups of students who have previously had little opportunity to study at a university and said mathematics education could play a role in this area.

“Most of us do not recognise the ‘maths’ skills we have and use daily, nor do we value the skills used in diverse groups across the world. Strategies and frameworks built from the theory and practice of adults learning mathematics can help find a pathway to university study previously unthought-of by many,” Professor Taylor said.

“It is clear to most that mathematics is key to studying sciences and engineering. What is often not clear is that mathematics or one of its relations - quantitative literacy or numeracy - is important for success in all branches of university study. Further it is not only important for university study but is a key capability for living in today’s world.

“Mathematics can be very powerful and an obvious example is that it is the lynch pin of our technological society. I will also be discussing how powerful it can be in other ways, such as can be seen by observing some great projects in Australia, Brazil and the US where colleagues are using mathematics as a pathway to social justice,” Professor Taylor said.

The professorial lecture entitled ‘Higher education for all – is mathematics part of the puzzle?’ is open to the public and will be held at the Lismore campus in U231 on Thursday, August 26 at 5.30pm. The lecture will also be video streamed to the add rooms Coffs Harbour and Gold Coast campuses.

For more information contact Donna McIntyre on 02 66 203503 or, email [email protected]. RSVP by Wednesday, August 25.

Photo: Professor and director of Teaching and Learning at Southern Cross University, Professor Janet Taylor will deliver a professorial lecture on August 26.