Posts Tagged ‘Logic’

What’s so good about Maths?

May 16, 2014 2 comments

The other day Colin Beveridge (@icecolbeveridge) wrote this nice piece about why he loves maths. Today one of my year twelve students asked why I had chosen to study it at degree level. This facts combined have made me decide to share my thoughts here.

I’ve written before about how Maths is a beautiful subject, so I racked my brains and tried to pinpoint when I really decided I loved it. I remember at nursery school learning to add and subtract. I loved doing it and I have vague recollections of doing sums at home as a little one, sums aren’t really maths, in the proper sense, but I guess this was an early indication of what I would like.

I always loved problem solving too, really enjoying logic puzzles and computer games with logic, problem solving and maths puzzles built in (such as “Fun School“, and “Granny’s Garden“. The latter has received a 21st century make over!

My memories of primary school maths aren’t overly strong, on the whole. I was very good at it. I remember not seeing the point in learning times tables because I could work out the answer quick enough anyway, this annoyed my teachers and my mum. (In a slightly off topic, but related note, my yr 3 you teacher, Mrs Bremner, once told me off for not learning my spellings, even though I had got ten out of ten on the spelling test!)

Two of the things I do recall primary maths are from year 5. I have vivid memories of Mrs Hanel teaching me how to find the area of a triangle and how to construct Perpendicular Bisectors. These were things I thought were cool, but I think the real wow moment came in year 6.

During year 6 I finished the maths syllabus that the school was running, and my teacher, Mr Jones, found me a text book in the store cupboard that was left over from when the school had been a middle school. I started working on Algebra. At first I thought it was pretty fun, solving equations to find an unknown, but the moment I think I fell in love with the subject was when I realised the link between equations and graphs.

When I moved to secondary school I spent the first year fairly bored in maths. The classes were mixed ability and the lessons were strange. There was a number of boxes which covered each topic. Every few weeks the classes would swap and get another box. The idea was you would work through the booklets, marking your own and ten do the review tests for the book which the teacher would mark. I just did the reviews.

I still loved the subject, but the lessons did bore me at times, this is evident in my national record of achievement which says “maths is my favourite subject, but sometimes it’s too easy and this can be boring.” This has certainly shaped the way I deal with Gifted and Talented pupils, making sure they are always adequately stretched.

My love affair with maths continued, and still does to this day. Some topics I love (Trigonometry, Coordinate Geometry, Algebra, Calculus, Number Theory, Graph Theory and many more) some less so (Bounds, Numerical Methods, Trial and Improvement, Transforming Shapes by Hand), but as a whole I love it. I love the beauty of it, I love the satisfaction of solving a problem, I love the process of wrestling with a formula, I love that there is not just one “right” way to go about a problem, I love the stories around the maths and the mathematicians, and I love the connectiveness that’s evident with maths.

Logic and conjecture

May 17, 2013 2 comments

A couple of months ago I was at my Gran’s house and I came across her copy of “Puzzler”. This instantly took me back to my childhood. Back then her and my Granddad lived on the Isle of Arran in Scotland and my mum, my brother and I would spend the majority of the summer holidays there. My dad would be there for some of it, but he wasn’t a teacher like mum, and as such couldn’t take the whole summer off. Granny was always a keen puzzler so there were always many of these compendiums around. She liked Crosswords and Wordsearches, but I much preferred these logic puzzles:

Logic1     Logic1

I also enjoyed the many number puzzles such as ken kens and sudukos. I think it was these puzzles at a very young age that might have been the first indicators of my love for maths.

When I came across this compendium a few weeks ago I immediately looked for and completed a logic puzzle. While I was doing so I realised that the reasoning being used was quite mathematical and that the able i was filling in was basically a two-way table. I decided that this would be a nice starter activity and so I made a purchase.


I’d not used these as starters yet, and then this week Emily Hughes (@ilovemathsgames) tweeted this link to her puzzle of the week ( Tis weeks included this puzzle:

Which reminded me of my compendium! I have used Emily’s this week as a starter for a few classes and they loved it, so I am going to incorporate more of these in future lessons. I’ve used it with a variety of classes from KS3 – KS5 and all enjoyed it, the faculty members i gave it to also seem to enjoy it too!

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