Q&A #4320

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Ancient math

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From: Shannon Sheehy

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2002031619:51:17
Subject: The value is the reflection of reality.

	The value of teaching the contribution of various cultures AND
GENDERS to the study of mathematics is that it demonstrates that math
did not come from a textbook.  It also shows that math did not come
 from the current student's teacher.  It also shows that math did not
come from a bunch of dead White guys (like I thought everything did
when I was in gradeschool).  It shows that significant milestones were
reached by people all around the world and that mathematics would not
be where it is today without each contribution.  Teaching the history
of mathematics, I imagine, will also reach students who enjoy history
and stories but who don't enjoy math.  It will give them something to
ponder, something that THEY know that their parents may not know--it's
always fun to share new knowledge with your parents!  I became very
interested in other cultures when a college student who'd been to
Japan in an exchange program visited my 3rd grade class.  I later
became fascinated with the ancient cultures of Mexico (6th grade) when
we were given intricate worksheets to color.  I don't remember many
facts, but I ended up taking 5 years of Spanish and passing the AP
Spanish Language test with a 5, the highest possible--and it all
started with one visit and a couple of worksheets that taught me about
the invention of zero and the astronomers of Ancient Mexico.

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