Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Whisky and Maths Mix

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Whisky and Maths Mix

Article excerpt

THE Thornhill Community Academy is a school near Dewsbury, UK. The pupils and staff speak a form of English impossible to understand unless you were born in Yorkshire, or are related to an early version of Geoff Boycott.

It was recently featured on the ABC's program The School. It came to public attention in the UK through a TV program Educating Yorkshire, based on filming at the school over 2013. It should be compulsory viewing for anyone who wonders how teachers earn their money.

You can catch up with it late on Thursday evenings, or on ABCIview. It's scary. The kids are allegedly brighter than average, which comes as a bit of a surprise, and the teachers are dedicated pragmatists who deserve medals for bravery.

They are led by headmaster Mr Donny Mitchell who believes in what he's trying to achieve while surrounded by students who rarely deserve to be taught anything by anyone. There are clever kids, too clever kids, real dumb kids, kids with too much make-up and teachers who have seen and heard it all before.

One of the best and most liked teachers is the maths teacher. One of the most hated subjects is mathematics. As one girl, whose career ambition was to be a hairdresser, pointed out, you don't have to be able to do maths to cut people's hair. This could be true. The number of times when you are called upon to evaluate the difference of two squares or solve a partial differential equation while giving somebody a blow wave must be fairly limited.

However, it only takes a waddle round the local supermarket to demonstrate the value of mathematics mastery, at least down near the arithmeticky end of the discipline.

My wife and I drink scotch, not excessively, but regularly, and consequently also have an interest in dry ginger ale. Scotch and dry is the go in our house. You can't master the intricacies of buying either of those two components without a passing competency in arithmetic. …

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