Now that we have everyone back at school with all the items they need in their possession, with a great attitude and liking their teachers, paying attention and being in class every day it’s time to take a look at math.
Before we start just a word from Dr. Carson, a man who grew up in the ghetto of Detroit with a single mom and who made something of himself. He said education is your “ticket” to finding a good job and being successful. Another recent item in the news is the visit of the Pope and his going to a Catholic school in New York where most students are Hispanic and in poverty but 98% go on to college. Why is that school so successful when most in that neighborhood have high failure rates?
Discipline, the attitude of the students, and the absolute cooperation of the parents.
Math came about because people began to own things and needed a way to keep tabs on their things. This goes way back to no longer eating wild plants and what animals you get find. A simple stroke in the dirt would be a “1”. 2 strokes, then 3, 4 and maybe for “5” a slash through the 4 marks. People didn’t own much so they didn’t need to make many strokes. As they accumulated more wealth the system needed to grow and different civilizations had different “numeral” systems. “Numbers” are the idea of a quantity and “numerals” is how they are written down. The Romans had letters with V being 5 and probably was a hand with the thumb and forefinger forming a V. Ten is an X which is two V’s. 4 was written with 4 I’s and later written as IV. Likewise 6 became VI and 9 became! X. They have an L for 50 and can add or subtract an X so 40 is XL, then a C for 100, a D for 500 and an M for 1000. The Emperor, one of the Ceaser boys, felt that his tax collectors were cheating him, what else is new, and ordered a census of the entire Roman Empire. The count came back at more than one million so what to do? Write a thousand M’s?
They decided that a line on top of a numeral multiplied it by one thousand so an M with a line on top was a million. This was OK for counting and keeping track of things but horrible for arithmetic because they had no “lace value”.
Our system, the Hindu-Arabic Numeral system comes to the rescue! The Hindu’s invented the numerals 1 through 9 and the Arabs invented the Zero. Now we had “place value” with zero being a place holder if there were none of the values like 104; no tens’s. Zero is famed as one of the most important inventions of all time and across from the White House there is a Zero Monument.
Early on most people could not read and didn’t even know their numerals. The angles in a numeral could be counted and that was the value so it was written like a 7 and had one angle, a 2 had 2 angles, etc. up to 9 with 9 angles. Zero is a round numeral and has no angles and that’s its value.
In Colonial times very few people could read and if you received a letter or instructions you had to go to a “reader” to find out what it said. These people were so important that the government passed a Forgiveness Act where
a reader would be excused, not prosecuted, for committing one murder. Once we decided how to count, base 10 for ten fingers or some other base the arithmetic was locked in. So 5 + 4 is 9 and 6 X 3 is 18 and that’s how it is and no one can pass a law to change any of these “facts”. Base 12 is faster because you do more work in your head and must have been very popular at one time. Just go to the bakery or look at you watch or calendar to see TWELVE.
There are some things in math that are incorrectly verbalized and this leads to a lot of confusion over very simple truths. No one should ever say 3 into 6. We read left to right. The problem is 6 (division sign) 3 and is PROPERLY
read 6 divided by 3. It can be written in fraction form as 6 over 3 or as a ratio, 6:3. No matter it is worth 2. Another thing that is WRONG is to say 12 over 24 is REDUCED to one half. It was NOT REDUCED. It is as valuable as ever.
It is correct to say it was SIMPLIFIED. When working with fractions it is always best to simplify if possible because the numbers are smaller and easier to work with. This is your lesson for today. Hope you enjoyed,
The Math Man