Category Archives: In Short

A step by step guide to speaking maths

Shirley Conran

For fourteen years I have talked to many mathematicians, and – speaking as a professional interviewer – sometimes I have found that very difficult.

Recently, I blurted this out to a revered mathematician and – to my surprise – he understood what I meant. And this is what he told me.

1. Mathematicians are very IMPATIENT people.

2. A good mathematician is not necessarily a good teacher. However, a good teacher can learn – relatively quickly – to teach up to and including Key 3 maths.

3. When talking to each other, mathematicians have no communication problems, but they can have difficulty when talking to a student because what is then needed is a restrictive language with a smaller vocabulary, for each age and ability.

Imagine a staircase, said my friendly mathematician. At the top of the staircase two maths teachers, Pat and Alex, are happily chatting to each other about maths.

On the bottom step stands a five-year-old. On the second step stands a
six-year-old, and so on. The maths teachers cannot easily adjust their communication level about maths to either of them… or a ten-year-old or a fourteen-year-old.

But a good maths teacher needs to be able to communicate well about maths on every level of the staircase.

Copyright © Shirley Conran 2015

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Big Money

BIG MONEY.   It’s good news that – only four years after she released her first album – singer Adele is making £80,000 a day. Not quite as well-paid, at an average of £102,000 a week, are the players at Manchester City, Britain’s best-paid Football Club.

I’m always happy to hear that someone is making big money because that means it’s possible. Envy gets you nowhere and eventually it sours you – visibly.

BIGGER MONEY.  A businessman, appointed to the board of an NHS Trust, recently told the Times that it took him six months to get the finance department – which employed 250 people – to produce a profit and loss statement. They had never produced one before!!!!!

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Entitlement / Biker Menace

ENTITLEMENT  “Working class” no longer describes a group of people. We all work. The Queen is working class. Union leaders probably work just as hard as Madonna.

So what replacement phrase to use?
Lower-income group and middle-income group. We can all be groupies.
The Rich stay The Rich.


BIKER MENACE  Maybe city cyclists need to pass a highway code test, pay for a road license and display their number on the back of their bike – ready for CCTV cameras to record their breath-taking, lawbreaking stupidity, and save NHS bills for themselves and their victims.

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In Short

Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx or Cara? What’s the link between Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx and supermodel Cara Delevigne? Big eyebrows are today’s equivalent of 80′s power shoulder pads: they say “Don’t mess with me.”

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