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Updated July 20, 2021
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Cyphering Books - "the implemented curriculum" follows daily w&mBack to top
In Episode 7, I interview Professors Nerida Ellerton and Ken Clements, who teach and research the history of math education at Illinois State University. They have published several books about their findings from analyzing about 800 cyphering books, self-written schoolbooks dating from 1607-1861 in the US, Britain, and Europe. In the onscreen discussion, Ken and Nerida talk about in Colonial times a working knowledge of business math and reading and writing "could get you a job."
I see parallels with today, where an understanding of quantum concepts can help you get a good job in the next years. "NSF expands quantum education to students nationwide in collaboration with industry, academic leaders" (August 05, 2020): "In the coming decades, quantum systems are poised to drive our nation's industrial base, economic strength and national security," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "Achieving that vision requires a workforce educated and trained in quantum information science and engineering. Through close collaboration with academia, industry, and partner agencies, the National Q-12 Education Partnership will increase the technical literacy of students, expanding inclusion and broadening participation for a future workforce that will bring benefits to all of us." The quantum concepts, like decimal math in the 1700s, originate in high science then appear in such infrastructure as weights and measures, and then of course are covered in school curricula.
For details about the math education revealed in cyphering books, see Rewriting the History of School Mathematics in North America 1607-1861: The Central Role of Cyphering Books (2012)
Ken and Nerida's knowledge of how math was learned over hundreds of years helped them to identify a leaf from Abraham Lincoln's own cyphering book. Abraham Lincoln’s Cyphering Book and Ten other Extraordinary Cyphering Books (2014)
The problem which Nerida walks me through was made more difficult for me with the pounds-shilling-pence currency units. I was curious what gas pumps looked like in the UK before the 1971 switch to 100 pence per pound, and found this 1930s photo of an attendant with a gas pump in the Edinburgh city of Liberton.If you zoom way in, you can see the shillings and pence dials for the gas pumped. But I can't tell what the fraction of gallons the machine displays -- 1/10 or something like 1/16th for a pint.