10 things I love about maths

This morning Kate Hunter on website Mamamia wrote a humorous post on the 10 things she hated about maths.
She’s right, there are people who don’t get maths, who proclaim their hopelessness with numbers, and who hate it with a passion, much in the same way I hate Brussel sprouts with a passion.
However just as there are math-phobes in the world, there are those who enjoy numbers. I’m a math nerd from waaay back, and here are my 10 reasons for loving maths.

1. Maths is more than numbers. It’s patterns, shapes, angles, curves, and letters. It is visual, tactile and cerebral at the same time.
2. You can get a wrong answer in maths and still be right , well sort of. I remember getting a maths question wrong in a spectacular fashion for a question during my mid year Year 12 exams. However, my workings out of the problem showed the examiner I had understood the concept, applied the correct rules and followed through correctly. I just managed to stuff up a little bit along the way. Applying what you learned and blagging your way through got me through in the end :).
3.Rules for maths don’t really change, so much as evolve. On the other hand, teaching methods do change- my son is learning maths differently to the way I did, which did involve a lot of rote learning and flashcards of my times tables. He is learning patterns, measurement and the fact that maths is an everyday part of life. We haven’t yet gotten to long division, and I hoe we never do- I loathed long division!
4. You wouldn’t have Google, Facebook, Twitter, nor the Internet without maths. The biggest conveyor of information, pictures, communication tool is all down to the fact that groups of very clever people nutted it out with numbers, algorithms and lots of 1’s and 0’s. Though I ask the people of Twitter- why 140 characters? Why? Why? Why?
5. There are 26 letters in the Western alphabet and look at how language has evolved, with new words being created and added to the Oxford English Dictionary- with just 26 letters. Numbers, on the other hand, stretch to infinity! It is the universal language which makes it all inclusive, rather than exclusive. One of my maths lecturers at uni was very hard to understand when speaking, but his equations were much easier to comprehend.
6. Numbers cAN make you joyous- the amount of money you have in your bank account on payday, when you’ve had your long service leave paid out, and when your husband’s EP is the number 1 selling title for a label.
7. Do you budget, bake, crochet, knit, drive? Do you play Scrabble or Sudoku? Are you blogging or writing to a deadline of time or to a word limit? Do you write poetry, songs, or even sonnets? Chances are you are using your numeracy skills, and you don’t even know it.
8. Being a ‘word’ person or a ‘numbers’ person aren’t mutually exclusive. In Year 11 I could recite tracts of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and knew the value of Pi to about 50 places. I can count in French, Italian and German, and love reading
9. 567, 796.48, 994, 004.78. In my early days as a librarian in a public library, I got to know the Dewey Decimal Classification (which classifies and organises non-fiction books in a library) very well. Dinosaurs were located at Dewey number 567, the Olympic Games at 796.48, Australian History was at 994 and the Internet was at 004.78. Surely the combination of words and numbers is a marriage made in heaven?
10. My dad was a maths teacher. He made maths fun for me, and if I was sick at home would leave me little sums to work out. He showed me not to be afraid of numbers and was extremely patient with me when it came to teaching me new concepts (he was my maths A teacher in Year 12). The only times he was angry at me was as a dad, and that was a lot! I think the number of white hairs on his head increased exponentially when I reached puberty.

My mum always claimed to be ‘rubbish’ at maths, but she was the budgeter, paid the bills, and managed the family’s finances. In some way it was a bit of a self-esteem issue, as she was seen as the less clever child in comparison to her elder sister.
There are so many different aspects to mathematics, and numbers that it can be a bit of a generalisation to say you hate maths. I don’t want to see this hatred or fear normalised, especially amongst girls and young women. There needs to be more positive angles given to stories about maths (pun intended) :).


Confessions of a booklover by Bookgrrl

The 7 types of book lover was featured in Mamamia on Tuesday. Looking at the list, I must admit I am guilty of a few, but not all of these types. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…

1. The Book Thief- When I moved to Geelong in 1984 I accidentally forgot to return a library book back to the Ararat Library, called The Endless Steppes by Esther Hautzig. The library police (Mr Bookman aka Mr BG) has yet to catch up with me, as I have moved several times, changed my name and the library service has dissolved in the 27 years since the crime took place. I can’t believe I still remember the title!

2. Dog Earer- My Grade Five teacher Mr Maher took one look at my copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and shuddered at the way I was treating it- dog ears, scuffed cover. I was really hard on books when I was younger, but I have reformed since then. Although a subcategory of this would be the coffee cup on the book, but I DON”T DO THIS (Mr BG is reading this *blows a kiss*)

3. Serendipity Screamer-The read and sharer- I will happily tell the world if I like a book, but release a book into the wild? A poor defenceless book? I can’t possibly do that!

4. The self conscious reader- I have read the odd one or one hundred books which some people may find embarassing. Yes, I have read Mills & Boon, and I harbour a special place in my heart for Jodi Picoult, Diana Gabaldon (time travelling romance) and Lillian Jackson Braun (mystery writer featuring a lot of cats). And I used to read a lot of Maeve Binchy before my mum discovered her. And no, I haven’t read James Joyce, Proust, nor Tolstoy. Sartre left me cold, as did Graham Greene. The closest I have come to Patrick White is reading David Marr’s biography, which I thoroughly recommend.

5. The did not finish- Occasionally this has happened, as I remember not finishing Amy’s Children by Olga Masters, which was a VCE text of my sister’s. Usually now it’s not even starting a book, let alone finishing one.

6. The underliner- a phase I quickly went out of after VCE- my copies of To kill a mockingbird, Macbeth and My Name is Asher Lev bear the scars of my underlining and highlighting. Thankfully post it notes and photocopying from books and journals came into common use when I was at uni :).

7. The reader of things you have never heard of- when I was working in a public library we would get a mix of bestsellers and new authors. Some of the new authors were excellent- Rosalie Ham, Amanda Lohrey, and Drusilla Modjeska just to name a few. Many of these were introduced to me by other library staff who were voracious readers (occupational hazard of working in a public library). I’ve never been the type to rabbit on about an unknown author though.

There is another type of booklover which wasn’t mentioned.

8. The bookpiler- a pile of books beside the bed, or on the bookcase that you are meaning to read- they may be worthwhile books which quickly get pushed aside for the latest page-turner, a book you know you have to read, but doesn’t grab you just yet. I have to keep them there, as their presence nags me, their muffled cries of ‘read me!’ keeping me aware that I must get to them…someday.

What type or types of booklover are you?

There’s a fire within my soul

I remember when Cotton On first openend up in Geelong in 1991, just down from where I worked at Myer. A girl I worked with used to go out with one of the Austins, who established the business. I never really shopped at Cotton On, mainly because their sizes were small, and their kidswear sizing was a bit over the place, making it hard to buy for the kids.

Kinda glad I don’t considering the slogans that until a couple of hours ago, they considered “edgy”, like “I’m a tits man”, “I’m living proof my mum is easy”, and the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back “They shake me”. With Mia Freedman in her blog declaring she wouldn’t set foot in their stores until the line was discontinued and an apology was issued, Cotton On have acted quickly and withdarawn the line and made an apology.

It also shows the power of bloggers like Mia who reaches thousands of women in Australia and overseas combined with Twitter and Facebook to get a company to back down.

Although these products are intentionally edgy and irreverent, and the succession of this range was driven by demand, the recent attention implies that the slogans in question have crossed the line.

Ya think?

With so many reports of child abuse in the media, you would think a fashion house would not stoop to trivialising this issue to sell a couple of tshirts.

I mean there are so many more things you could put your children into that are cringeworthy- brown and orange together, frilly dresses, when you wanted to climb trees, handknitted jumpers- oops just had a flashback to my childhood in the 70s 🙂