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Some Functional Maths from Ancient Greece…

June 14, 2010

Freeborn children [of Greece] should learn as much of these things as the vast throngs of young in Egypt do with their alphabet. First as regards arithmetic, lessons have been devised there for absolute beginners based on enjoyment and games, distributing apples and garlands so that the same numbers are divided among larger and smaller groups.

…The teachers, by applying the rules and practices of arithmetic to play, prepare their pupils for the tasks of marshalling and leading armies and organizing military expeditions, managing a household too, and altogether form them into persons more useful to themselves and to others, and a great deal wider awake.” (Plato, Laws 7819, written c.360 BC)

So it’s official, there’s nothing new under the sun…  Looks like the Ancient Greeks agreed on the importance of teaching maths through games. 

True, these days we’re less likely to teach functional maths in the context of “organising a military expedition” – it’s more likely to be about choosing a good mobile phone package or organising a holiday in France.  But I think Plato would happily have understood these under “managing a household”.

Our thanks to Adrian Hon’s blog mssv for highlighting this quotation.

Click here if you want to find out more about the 2010 Functional mathematics qualifications or Longman’s Functional mathematics resources.

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