What is maths?
Mathematics is an integral part of our daily lives, we often do not realise we are using it. It is the science that deals with patterns, arrangement, logic of shapes and quantity. Without maths, we would not have some of the wonders of the world, money, sports and even art.
Maths has a fascinating history:
Maths is short for mathematics. The word is derived from the greek word mathema, meaning knowledge or study. Western thinking is that the term mathematics was coined in the 6th century BC, meaning a subject of instruction.
The current system of digits (0 to 9) that we use are known as Arabic Numbers, although zero is a translation of the sanskrit word ‘sunya,’ meaning empty. The first English-known use of zero was in 1598, but the first stone inscription was found at the Chaturbhuj Temple, Gwalior, in India, dated 876. It is believed that zero originates from around 3,000 BC.
Since 15th February 1971 (known as Decimal Day), Britain has used a decimal system with a base of 10, meaning that calculations are done in blocks of 10.
This obviously feeds into how maths is taught in school.
Maths is taught from a very early age through song to begin with than initially using physical objects.
Maths in primary schools
Throughout all the years of compulsory schooling, maths is an integral part of learning. There is a transition in how maths is taught in primary school. Through the first couple of years, maths is taught using concrete objects, transitioning over from concrete to pictorial and eventually to abstract.
Almost all the major mathematical concepts taught through school life are introduced at the primary school level. The National Curriculum breaks down the teaching of maths into
- Geometry (shapes to begin with)
By the time children reach secondary school, all maths is taught in abstract form and therefore of a more qualitative nature. Schools will predict
Major areas of mathematics studied at the secondary level include:
- ratio and proportion
- Geometry and measure
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