13th March 2002 – Observation of the week

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd


May I take this opportunity to observe that I find that there are many opportunities for  social comment in the maths homework that you set me.


This week (section 2 test 9 part C1) is a perfect illustration of the genre.  It is noted that 18% of attendees at a concert were men and 38 percent were women,  the remainder being children.  What can we read into this?


Firstly it is unlikely that, as in the time after the first world war, there were fewer men in society. Why therefore the imbalance of the sexes?  This could be that the concert was in an area of the country where men adopted traditional attitudes about family life and preferred to spend their time in the pub whilst the wife attended to the children’s needs.


On the other hand it may be that the concert was something arranged by the Women’s Institute and that therefore the entertainment on hand may have been less than suitable for the man of the house.  If this was the case then we should either pity or admire the 18% of males who did turn out.


The concert may have taken place on the Saturday of the FA Cup Final.  If this was the case then it would have been unreasonable for a wife to have expected her husband to turn out. The 18% might then have been accounted for by the fact that there are undoubtedly men in society who have no interest in football.


If the concert had taken place during the school holidays then there would potentially be more mothers than fathers available to attend as the former may well have been at work.


Finally could you please explain the principle behind and uses of the square root of minus one.  My father insists that there is an answer to this.  As my respected teacher of mathematics I am confident that you can explain this to me.


Best Wishes



By Trefor Davies

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