Mathematics dates from antiquity, built upon the minds of the world's intellectual giants: Euclid, Pythagoras, Archimedes, Newton, Euler, Gauss, Einstein and many, many others. It is perhaps the most developed science, deploying a huge corpus of theory and technique. Music, art and mathematics transcend all cultures but perhaps mathematics most of all is universal, for it is a truly common language, regrettably appreciated by and accessible to far too few of us.
Among the sciences, mathematical sciences have undergone extraordinary growth over the last decade, primarily stimulated by advances in computing facilities, both software and hardware. The advancement of science, indeed society more generally, has always depended upon mathematics and will do so even more in the future.
Communicating this corpus of knowledge, understanding the theoretical and logical base and deploying this knowledge to the benefit of mankind is one of the biggest challenges facing education at the beginning of this new century (or millennium!). It is therefore pleasing to see a text on Effective Teaching and Learning in Mathematics and its Applications, edited by Peter Kahn and Joseph Kyle, with chapters by leading practitioners in the discipline of mathematics, statistics and operational research. Chapters in the book cover the key areas of assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative), learning developments, course design and reflection, application of mathematics in modelling phenomena, the analysis of data and preparation for future employment. There is also recognition of the need to support the non-specialists who need mathematics or statistics for the full understanding and appreciation of their own discipline.
I strongly encourage you to read the chapters of this book, implement and further develop the ideas and concepts relevant to your interests, but to also draw your colleagues' attention to the book as well, for there is much to understand about the learning, teaching and assessment of mathematics, statistics and operational research.
Professor John R Blake
Director, LTSN Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research Network
School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Birmingham