Mainly for teachers. More school mathematics of yesteryear.
What was it like to learn maths at school in the Victorian period?
We visited the British Schools Museum in Hitchin to find out.
The talk was entitled "Lets look forwards by glancing back". It
was concerned with mathematical 'starters' and questions used
during the last century or so. The audience was to be Heads of
The hope was that a discernible shift in the prevailing
educational thinking could be detected along the way.
What surprised those colleagues present - aged roughly from the
mid twenties up to the mid seventies, was how in certain
circumstances the wheel was coming full circle. For some, the only
change to be seen in the 'starters' and questions was the degree of
severity and the over reliance on arithmetical slog in
Many there were familiar with practising fractions! Here is part
of the first overhead transparency:
Nowadays few children have to manipulate monsters of this order.
But, could they, others asked. But, why bother was also
While many of the younger staff present 'enjoyed' coming to
terms with a word problem, did they know at the start it was to do
To compare directly yesteryear with present day thoughts of
numeracy and the 'mental' start to every lesson, the following was
Traditional fayre for youngsters of 13 years and above. Time
limit FOUR MINUTES. How well did you do? How well would your pupils
The next article in series is More Old Chestnuts .