Laurie Buxton

Born 16.6. 1926 at . Certificate
Full Name Laurie Graham Buxton .
Father Beresford G Buxton Mother .
Christened . . at .
Married . . to Pam at . Certificate
Children date daughter .
. . daughter .
. . daughter .
. . daughter .
Died 7.12. 2001 at . Leukaemia. Certificate

From 1973 to 1981, the educationalist Laurie Buxton, who has died aged 75 of leukaemia, was the Inner London Education Authority's staff inspector for maths. His motto was, "Don't learn facts, think." He believed that the way to make mathematicians was to capture the imagination of the very young. He was particularly interested in the emotional response to the subject.

In his book, Do You Panic About Maths? (1981), Buxton addressed adults - mainly teachers - seeking to understand the point at which they felt that maths was a subject beyond their reach. His other books included Maths For Everyman (1984) and Sums For Smart Kids (2000). In the latter, he wrote: "Mathematics is unusual in that there is little to remember but a great deal to understand." He was also the presenter of BBC Television's Maths Help, which dealt with the subject in a non-scary way in the early 1980s.

Buxton was brought up in Sussex. His father, an art photographer, died when Laurie was 11 from war injuries sustained at Passchendaele in 1917; his mother worked for the post office. A keen sportsman, he was educated at Ealing grammar school, west London, and graduated in 1946 from a two-year physics and maths degree course at King's College London, where he became the London University chess champion. For the next 17 years, he taught in and around London. In 1952, he took a special maths degree at Birkbeck College, London, and, in 1985, was awarded a PhD in education from Warwick University. An MA in linguistics from the University of East Anglia followed in 1992.

By 1963, he was head of maths at Stationer's Company school in Hornsey, and became an Ilea district inspector in Islington. He never lost touch with his teaching roots, and always showed understanding and empathy with the young staff he supported.

Appointed a magistrate in 1967, he chaired the Haringey bench from 1986-89 and later transferred to the Thetford bench. His other voluntary work included an 11-year spell as a governor at Birkbeck College. From 1995-2001, he was a Labour councillor in Swaffham, Norfolk.

In retirement, Buxton enjoyed golf, bridge and chess. Larger than life, warm, generous - and ruthless - there was never a dull moment in his marriage to Pam, who survives him, as do his four daughters.

Laurie Graham Buxton, educationalist, born June 16 1926; died December 7 2001

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Sources: [1] Sue Seifert, The Guardian, Tuesday 15th January 2002;

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Page last updated 09 December 2008