Home > Commentary, Maths, Strange, Teaching > Abacii and Abbey House

Abacii and Abbey House

Quite a while ago I wrote this post about Abacii. I was hoping to buy one for my daughter, but everyone I found only had ten beads per bar, and as we live in a base ten society this makes no sense, and we should have nine beads per bar. This week we took her to the abbey house museum and we found this:




The writing next to it clearly states that you use an absence of beads for zero, each line being for a different “place” in the number. And that when you get to ten you move one bead on the row above. This would be fine, if there were 9 beads per row, BUT THERE ARE TEN!!!!!! If on the tenth bead you swipe them all back to the other side and move one on the next row then the tenth bead should never move, it is obsolete, why is it there?!?!?!? I still haven’t found one for my daughter with nine beads on it and I can’t fathom why they all have ten. Its entirely ridiculous.


On a brighter note, they had more maths references in the museum. They had this:


Is on the bottom of a black board and has helpful workings to show how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. The implication was that at some point in history these were common in classrooms, and I thought they were nice.


There was also this little poem:


The negative-ness of it shows that maths has always had a bad press! This sort of feeling is still rife, and we are constantly battling to destroy it.

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