Adults get a second chance to master maths

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The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) will run a novel course this May that promises to give adults at all career levels another chance to master a fundamental but elusive competency: mathematics.

Elaine Rumboll, Director of Executive Education at the UCT GSB, said that the ability to feel comfortable with numbers is a crucial skill for people at all levels in business but that many people had negative experiences at school that have left them with high levels of anxiety in dealing with numbers and feelings of insecurity when relating to their work colleagues in case they are 'found out'.

"Maths is a pitfall competency for countless adults in South Africa who experience failure and confusion in trying to make the world of numbers add up. The result is that they often feel inadequate and incompetent in both their careers and private lives,' she said.

Rumboll added that business schools like the UCT GSB have a role to play in building skills and competence across a wide spectrum of business knowledge, not just at the very top level of management.

"Mathematical competence is a foundation competence. We are contributing to building peoples' skills to help them advance in their careers, to feel freer in the workplace and to develop their capacity for further learning. The course is an extension of our philosophy of immersion and accelerated learning, with care and personal attention," she said.

The course, aptly titled Second Chance Maths and which runs in the evenings from 15 - 24 May, allows participants to explore the roots of their fear through writing and role-play. It is designed so that no knowledge beyond basic Standard 5 mathematics is needed.

The course will be run by Chris Breen, Associate Professor in the UCT Department of Education, who is well-known on the Cape Town scene for his innovative approach to mathematics learning. Breen's approach is effective because, instead of being forced to rely on memory, participants will be encouraged to develop their powers of visualisation as a tool for exploring the world.

"The emphasis is on the process rather than the answer, and time is taken to discuss the differing images and understanding of the concepts. The course provides an example of the way in which embracing diverse processes provides an opportunity to enlarge one's own and an organisation?s possibilities," he said.

The course has also been designed with maximum accessibility in mind. "This is a unique opportunity for people to overcome a long-term fear. All the barriers have been lowered - the course is run during the evening and is very affordable," said Rumboll.

More information is available on (021) 406 1323.

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