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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