Thursday, 5 May 2016

Mathsy Memories

Photo: agr
My own secondary school education in the 1970s and early '80s was light years away from the one that my son is receiving now. The content and way in which lessons are delivered have been transformed. There was also some expectation at my own school that their prodigies would be 'laydees' accomplished in the traditional crafts expected of our sex. Domestic science, in the form of cookery lessons and needlework featured quite heavily.   It made me wonder whether we were there to acquire the skills to pursue an actual career or to lure in a City stockbroker who would provide a home in the commuter belt where we could practise our wifey crafts. These lessons were taught in a way that induced anxiety and always got in a pickle. I think Mama Lovelygrey got pissed off when she sent me to school with perfectly good ingredients and dress fabric and what arrived home each time was a barely disguised abomination.

Anyway peeps of a certain age!  Do you remember these log tables?  I was fifteen before I owned my first calculator.  With a myriad of technology, literally at his fingertips,  Louis  can't comprehend the effort involved in seemingly simple mathermatical tasks.  Finding the square root of, say, 77.5 involved trawling through a book of tiny numbers and maybe a few extra back of the envelope calculations before the answer finally 'popped' out.  I think that we'd all agree that things have changed for the better here.  We're freed up to focus on problems with more meaning rather than the minutiae.  Perhaps our responsibility now is to make sure that we ourselves and our kids are doing this and not frittering away all that extra time!

11 comments:

  1. What is/was the point of log tables? I didn't know then and I don't know now! I have certainly never had cause to refer to them in the last 55 years!

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    1. Nor I but we seemed to spend a lot of time poring over those eyesight defying figures! x

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    2. Didn't we though?! I could never cope with maths at school since I suffer discalculia, it really is a tricky thing.

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  2. Interestingly though, I use algebraic equations regularly without thinking at the time I'd ever use any again after graduation.

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    1. I do occassionally. Love algebra and also calculus. xx

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    1. I don't know how to use one of those! x

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  4. OMG I've not given a thought to log tables for over 40 years, do I need them? No I've lived a happy contented life without.

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  5. I don't even know what that book is!We had to use pencil first to learn how to write nicely, in our rough note books. Then later we got a wooden pen where the nib slotted into it so it could be easily replaced if broken. If you could be trusted you got to be ink monitor I left school in 1864....sorry...1964.

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  6. Log books....YUK! I was a wizz at both Algebra and Geometry, but pretty average at ordinary Maths. I think that says a lot about the workings inside my head.

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  7. I remember log books! Never have I come across anyone else who even knew what they were. I was starting to think they were just an Irish thing!

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