A friend for Finkel on maths education

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s warning that students who abandon high-level school maths for “soft skill” subjects will struggle in many university courses CMM November 22) is backed by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.

It makes a change from the symphony of silence from universities and discipline groups, which have ignored (again) Dr Finkel’s calls for teaching the serious maths in schools that STEM undergraduates need and for making maths a pre-req for STEM degrees.

“All our graduates should be literate, good communicators and able to work in teams. But this must be integral to their discipline training, not an end in itself. This is self-evident but the noise around ‘soft skill’ is distracting us. …If we keep encouraging students to study the lower maths and get a higher ATAR and pursue broad degrees to keep their options open, we’re going to slam the brakes on Australia’s STEM ambitions,” Geoff Prince from AMSI says.


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