Trusty Servant May 2019 No.127 - Page 2

No.127 in 1957 revealed a mathematics gap between Britain and the Soviet Union. Bryan Thwaites (C, 41-42; Co Ro, 51-59) called a meeting and his group decided to rebuild school mathematics. Since the fundamental concept in the axiomatic development of mathematics is the empty set, four-year-olds on SMP would start with the empty set too, rather than the ‘sums’ on which their benighted parents had cut their teeth. On that stark rock the group built an elegant, practical and meaningful syllabus that culminated in vector spaces and orbit mechanics. (Incidentally, Sir Bryan recently celebrated his 95 th birthday with a flying lesson and buzzed his girlfriend’s back garden.) Readers may know of the Pacific cargo cults that attach superstitious meaning to western technology: in one such, islanders carve headphones out of balsa wood and sit in improvised control towers summoning passing planes; in another, the Yaohnanen worship Prince Philip as a divine being. Before the SMP, mathematics teachers were priests in a cargo cult, going through the motions; no wonder the Soviets had beaten us to orbit. The SMP reformation had rationale and purpose: derivatives were ‘local scale factors’; what the cargo cult called ‘integration’ was ‘finding anti-derivatives’; actual integration was studied; vectors unified abstract algebra and mechanics; resisted motion was modelled with differential equations, which might be solved step-by-step; and all the pure maths was fair game in the applied maths questions. There was an S paper for the very strongest, which of course included a dozen Wykehamists every year; and the thing became even more splendid at Further Maths. What a rag-bag of dodge and fallacy my own education was, compared to SMP; how fortunate were generations of Wykehamists to have teachers who pioneered it; and how lucky I was to stumble into this haven of rigour, simplicity and purpose! Sadly, the The Trusty Servant SMP, a city at unity in itself, could not survive the millennial fashion for modularisation, and judging by the text book, its successor the Pre-U is degenerating into a cargo cult. It happens all the time: there’s a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum (BM 13901) that suggests Hammurabi’s scribes were running a quadratic equations cargo cult in the suburbs of Babylon. 7 points the way; but what an extraordinary thing to have noticed, and then care about! John Smith’s determination to get his department to teach best methods was somewhat undermined by physical eccentricity on a grand scale. He was fond of wild scissoring movements with his very long legs and was indulging this while sitting on a in a classroom over what 1.b radiator Che Guevara is still called the Headmaster’s Back Compared to the tragedy of the SMP, Passage when he toppled out of the in which readers may find a parable for Britain’s trajectory from Concorde open sash. Only the fact that D1 is John Smith’s determination to get his departm on the ground floor saved his life. Of to Ryanair, the Winchester Algebra by it physical course, when came to eccentricity eccentricity on a gra Wars were a Balkan sideshow, fierce, undermined Funky was the square-root of Durran, entertaining and instructive. It was movements with his very long legs and was i whose pièces de résistance were animal John Smith’s battle hymn that the over without what is limits. still Henry called the Headm impressions simplest things could be taught well classroom Thompson (Co Ro, 64-00 & 05) was or badly, that I was teaching them open sash. Only the fact that D1 is on the gro reduced to tears by the Tiger – ‘Stop all badly and what was I going to do to eccentricity Funky of D it John. Please, please was stop the it!’ – square-root and about it? in the Warden’s Garden at Eton impressions without limits. Henry Thompson QUESTION 2. Match a College mother once said, ‘O Multiply out (x − 2)(2x + 5) . the John, Tiger I’ve – ‘Stop please stop i heard it so John. much Please, about your (x − 2)(2x + 5) = 2x 2 − 4x + 5x − 10 = 2x 2 ape – please do it for me.’ Durran a College mother once said, ‘O John, I’ve hea + x − 10. politely declined but was pressed me.’ Durran politely declined but was pressed hard. Suddenly the ape appeared, In every classroom in the world scratching his armpits. He peeled off his armpits. He peeled off his interlocutor’s p beyond SO23 this working would his interlocutor’s patent yellow heels receive a tick. Not at Winchester in chucked them in Logie and brachiated away. like a pair of bananas, chucked them 1986, where Funky’s syllabus was in Logie and brachiated away. explicit: boys must write QUESTION 3. 2x 2 + x − 10 without intermediate working. Question 3. In the diagram below, find x. In the diagram below, find x. I mustn’t discourage my 32 readers with a paragraph explaining why Funky was right and the rest of 48° 10 the world wrong, though Question Che Guevara 2 response Your response to Your this question will to this quest depend on whether you are pro- the or anti-Funki Funky. Like anti-Funky. Like the anti-Funkies, I primary, so the sine of an a had been taught that the ratio of sides was primary, so the of an of angle the sine length the hypotenus was the length of the opposite divided and hypotenuse; the whole thing was to by the length of the similar ratios even defined cosine and TOA. Should that the tribal incantation fail tangent and the whole thing was to slogans, of which Silly Old Harry Caught A H be remembered with a mnemonic: SOH CAH TOA. Should even that would printable. In Question 3, anti-Funkies x tribal incantation fail to stick, there   " were = cos48° ; x = obscene 10cos48° = 6.69 .' That more-or-less slogans, 10 of which Silly Old Harry Caught A grave. John Smith’s line was that cos48° is w the adjacent, so that without invoking a ratio wondering what the sides of such triangles ar glitch, and had I not come to Winchester I w