The Kings College London Mathsoc has a weekend every year at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park, a large house dating from republican (Cromwellian) times but with many royal connections. As we were told, many of the discussions about the constitutional crisis provoked by Edward VIII’s abdication took place here, and the relevant scenes in the film The King’s Speech were filmed here.
This year, the students invited me to address them. On Saturday afternoon, I went for a stroll in the park with some of the senior Kings mathematicians, and afterwards a small group (Alice Rogers, Peter Saunders, Tony Barnard and I) sat in the bar and talked.
One idea that surfaced in our discussions concerns the fact that school mathematics education in Britan now, with its focus on syllabuses and testing, fails to communicate to pupils the real nature and excitement of the subject. Wouldn’t it be good if there were a series of books which provided such material, at a level accessible to good school pupils and their teachers, which would have no connection with the exam system but would give them a taste of real mathematics?
Could it really happen, or is this just one of those conversations which put the world’s problems to right but never make it into reality?