Wed Jun II
Not a lot. Va set us an essay ^3pgs on The Golden Ratio’. If anyone can tell me what it is phone 861-992!
Here was teaching! Throw something totally random at the kids, something you have never discussed with them, and make them write an essay about it. Moreover, do it in a maths class, a subject where the topic of essays is usually anathema to teachers. After all, if you can teach maths why would you want to wade through 600 words of teenage drivel, as teachers of arts subjects had to do?
I was, of course, luckier than my class brethren. I had a father who knew about such things and who, whilst unwilling to hand me the answer on a plate, was willing to direct me to somewhere that I could find the answer. That was to a small part of a book by a man named Martin Gardner, which explained the concept so clearly that even a 14 year old could understand it.
Martin Gardner was to make an important appearance later in my life, when Dad asked for another of his books as a gift. This was ‘The Annotated Alice’, a wonderful book in which Gardner added footnotes to Lewis Carroll’s legendary works to explain the mathematics behind the stories (remembering always that Carroll, or at least his alter ego, Charles Dodson, was a mathematician). It remains one of the very few scientific books of any nature that I have read and understood. Sadly, Gardner died two years ago, at the age of 95. The scientific world could do with more writers such as he.