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The World Is Maths

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June 2018

Mathematical Stories 4 – An historical and international endeavour

In the late eighth and early ninth centuries there lived a Persian mathematician called Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. Al-Khwarizmi was an official mathematician and astronomer for the Abbasid Caliphate and was the head of the library at the House of Wisdom in Baghdad – an academy in the original sense, a centre of scholarship and learning which followed in the footsteps of the Library of Alexandria a millennium earlier. Continue reading “Mathematical Stories 4 – An historical and international endeavour”

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‘Learning Scientists’ Talk and Scheme of Work

Back in June 2017 I wrote an article for the Learning Scientists on how I had started to try to incorporate their Six Strategies for Effective Learning into a maths curriculum and lessons.

A year has passed since then and the work has been continuing. I’ve spoken at two conferences recently on this theme – MathsConf14 in Kettering and researchED Rugby – and have shared a few more practical ideas, including resources we have found useful along the way. Continue reading “‘Learning Scientists’ Talk and Scheme of Work”

Mathematical Stories 3 – Irrationality and Infinity

The Ancient Greek Pythagoreans discovered the existence of irrational numbers in the fifth century BCE, to the legendary demise of one of their number, Hippasus, and were perturbed by them since they contradicted the firmly-held belief that everything related to number and geometry came back to natural numbers and their ratios (rational numbers).

The Greeks were rather late to the party, though. It’s thought that Indian mathematicians were thinking about irrational numbers a whole three hundred years earlier – Manava (c. 720 BCE) thought that certain square roots could not be determined – but, as with many things in the history of mathematics, it is not always clear where, or from whom, an idea originated. Much like any academic history, mathematics is a mix of human thought across time and space.

Continue reading “Mathematical Stories 3 – Irrationality and Infinity”

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