Deadly Maths

I could probably guess that maths has ever seemed to be a life or death situation before to many people. I also hadn’t seemed like that to me before our Discovering Mathematics input with Dr Ellie Hothersall. Nevertheless, to doctors that is exactly what maths is. This is another place and job in society that I never thought of linking mathematics to. However, being a doctor means using mathematics to potentially save someone’s life and using mathematics incorrectly means they could potentially make a fatal mistake for their patients.

Doctors use maths every day and every day the maths they do affect the patients they treat. Dr Ellie Hothersall taught us just how much maths doctors us on a daily basis. They are constantly monitoring patients and plotting all of the information they take into several forms of graphs to make sure the patient’s health is improving.

However, one of the most important aspect of their job that they use maths for is prescribing our medication to us. As patients we trust that our doctors are prescribing us the correct amount of medication and telling us correctly when to take the medication and how much medication to take at any time. This can take a lot of mathematics to work out when and how much of a drug to take.

Michael Jackson’s doctor was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving the world famous singer an overdose of an intravenous sedative (Graham, 2013) (Unknown, 2011). Jackson died in 2009 (Wikipedia, undated) after allegedly being given too much intravenous drugs including Propofol (“a fast acting hospital sedative” (Unknown, 2011)) which his doctor gave to him to help him sleep. The overdose of drugs – if it was not on propose which has never been proven – would have been a miscalculation of a prescription from his doctor leading to Jackson’s death.

This shows a fatal miscalculation of drugs can lead to someone death. This has happened many times and to ordinary people as well –  a doctor in America was charged with murder after killing three of her patients when she prescribed fatal overdoses of drugs they were already addicted to (Gerber et al.,  2015).

Although this is not normal practice and these show extreme examples – it goes to show how essential mathematics is to a doctor in their day to day practice. Without their ability to do mathematics there could be a lot more deaths due to overdoses.

There is goes to show that maths is a crucial aspect of the medical profession and it is critical that doctors understand mathematics to continue to prescribe us with medication because if the medication is prescribed wrong it can be a fatal error.




Graham (2013) ‘No I didn’t Kill Michael. He….King of Pop Available at:–massive-overdose-using-stash-What-really-happened-night-Jackson-died-Dr-Conrad-Murray-doctor-jailed-death-King-Pop.html (Accessed on 10/11/15)

Gerber et al. (2015) California Doctor Convicted of Murder in Overdose Deaths of Patients Available at: (Accessed on 10/11/15)

Unknown (2011) The Drugs Found in Michael Jackson’s Body After He Died Available at: (Accessed on 10/11/15)

Wikipedia (undated) Death of Michael Jackson Available at: (Accessed on 10/11/15)

Is Teaching A Profession?

I recently came across a photo on an educational page I follow on facebook which I absolutely loved and linked very well with a few news articles lately. I felt this following blog might be of some interest (and help) especially to the MA1 who will writing their essay on professional now or in the near future.

The quote (of Donald D. Quinn) came from the Education to the Core’s facebook page (this does not mean I endorse or support this facebook page at all). “If a doctor, lawyer or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble and the doctor, lawyer or dentist without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job”.

Now, I am not all one hundred percent in favour of this quote as it seems to dismay how much work doctors, lawyers and dentists do. I have never been either of those or studied any of their professions in depth but I am sure they are very hard working people from those I have had the pleasure meeting whilst at university.

However, there are a few sources out there that also seem to think that teacher do not quite make it as professionals or teaching does not quite make it as a profession. Teachers compared to doctors, lawyers and dentists seem to the least trusted – the government hold a lot more power over teachers than these other professions. A Guardian Education Correspondent, Sally Weale, summed up that the teaching profession is very closely monitored by the government by saying in her article “despite Michael Gove’s intentions, teaching has become a profession monitored to within an inch of its life. Weale links this to the reason for the huge drop out of newly qualified teachers very early in their career. This is something that doctors, lawyers or dentists do not have as much pressure on them as teachers.

There has been a record number of teachers leaving their profession due to the amount of work and stress they are under. “A combination of unacceptable number of hours worked, a punitive accountability system, the introduction of performance-related pay and being expected to work until 68 for a pension has turned teaching into a less than attractive career choice” (Blower, Quoted in The TES, 2015). I personally believe that teacher work just as hard as any other professional in professions such as medicine or law. However, due to quotes such as “He who can does. He who cannot teaches,” we do not get the same trust from the government or same respect as other professionals. Shaw (quoted in The Importance of Teaching, Volume 70 No. 5) rebuts this by stating that “teachers can do something, and do do something; they teach. Like any other professional activity, teaching requires a cultivated ability. To be done exceptionally well, it also requires a special talent and a sense of vocation”

Additionally, Quinn’s quote suggests that teachers have an incredibly hard job which most of the time goes unappreciated. Teachers work under many pressure listed in Quinn’s quote as well as the Guardian article which many other professions and professionals do not have. I believe this makes a good stance as to why teachers should be deemed as professionals and the job we do a profession.

I hope this has sparked some thoughts on teaching being a profession and teachers are professionals. However, in my own opinion, I clearly still believe that yes we are professionals for reasons such as those stated in Quinn’s quote and many more.

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