Mathematics

To give children a sense of the wonder and beauty of the pattern of numbers is to sow the seed for a life-long love of mathematics. We must dispel any inherited fear of maths by introducing it from the very beginning through number games, pattern and rhythm; by demonstrating, for instance, the number 9 as it weaves, vanishes, reappears and repeats itself in the 9-times table.

With fractions, at the age of 9 or 10, we begin to take things apart and see how they go together again. With negative numbers and an understanding of decimals and percentages we not only bring important lifeskills, but lead into discussion of the morality of lending, borrowing and using money.

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Art and mathematics come together strongly as we introduce geometry, at first freehand with pattern and colour. As they mature, we encourage the children in the use of instruments to bring an appreciation of the beauty and satisfaction of precision. Geometry makes visible the concepts of space and proportion and develops spatial awareness, vital in design, architecture and planning.

With the introduction of algebra in early teenage comes a new language of maths to be used to investigate new problems. Here are the beginnings of a feeling for the unknown and the invisible. A study of the five platonic solids at the age of 13 or 14 gives a further impetus to this and to a sense of the infinitely great and the infinitely small.

Working in the Upper School with statistics and the handling of data shows the students the social, economic and political uses of maths. Discussion can lead into the benefits it can bring to planning and to the distortions and deceptions when wrongly used. When imaginatively taught, maths goes way beyond the limited skills needed for prescriptive examinations. It brings an ability to think logically, a desire for enquiry and reaches into an understanding of the world and of life itself.