So the presents have started arriving from Open University

Twice in the last couple of weeks, I have missed package deliveries and had to re-arrange forwarding. Both were from the Open University.

Today’s one which was the third, and apparently final mailing for my first maths module, arrived today. It had books for every chapter, and the one that caught my interest – more than anything – was Block D. Block D concentrates on Chance/Probability and it’s what I remember most from 2o years ago.

Chance and probably is quite topical in the UK at the moment because a senior judge has recommended that Bayes theorem not be applied in expert statistical evidence in court cases. This has caused a lot of debate amongst statisticians and mathematicians (including the “he’s probably not qualified to make a call on that in his own right” line of reasoning.

One of the things which saddens me most about the generally low levels of numeracy in Ireland is that people aren’t equipped to have these debates; they’re not equipped to assess the likelihood of things happening based on prior data (like oh, house price crashes). While I’ve signed up for a degree in mathematics and statistics, Open University also does a degree in maths and maths teaching. Given a wider debate about the quality, and the level of qualification, of maths teachers here in Ireland, this is quite interesting.

For me, most of what this year consists of is modelling. I’m interested in this too because I have tangential interests in wave modelling and to a lesser extent, climate modelling. What’s great about all this is that it’s going to provide me with tools to do other things I am interested in beyond the day to day business of work and life. There’s a tiny undisciplined part of me which would really and truly like to hit on Part D before I do anything else because I remember probability from school and liking it very much (and scoring full marks in the probability question in my leaving certificate); but I recognise that some discipline is going to help me most through this.

There is always a lot to be said for learning something new, however, so this makes me quite happy.

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