After my earlier post about art and design, here's maths. The UK Government is concerned about the teaching of maths in school, and is likely to take steps to make maths "more useful once pupils enter the world of work". That's a seemingly harmless phrase, but what that boils down to is more teaching of numeracy, and less teaching of how rich a subject mathematics is, never mind its wider context(s).
I heard Johnny Ball (childhood hero) on the radio Monday morning, arguing powerfully that this would be a mistake:
"What they need to understand is the mathematics that makes bridges stand up, the mathematics that empowers designers, the mathematics that empowers our technology - because we live in a technological age. And if we don't do that early - and we're not doing that early enough - then we don't get enough people going into the technical trades or engineering in our universities and UK PLC loses out."
From another angle, remember 'Cryptonomicon', in which Neil Stephenson produced numerous examples of the kind of maths I personally first encountered studying Computer Science at college - more philosophy than numeracy. Utterly beautiful. Supremely powerful. Effectively another language/system of communication in itself, which is what I believe Stephenson was doing there. He's fluent in both - an extremely good writer in prose, and able to communicate via maths (and its tributaries and waterfalls of code) on its own terms. Also able to place it in a wider socio-historical context - I couldn't imagine a better study guide, but one unlikely to be recommended in the Government's report.