"In the old days" long long ago, aka when I was at school, we did Arithmetic at Junior School. We graduated to "Maths" when we went to High School, and that had all the complicated algebraic and geometrical bits added to the study of numbers. But when we were small, it was the simple study of arithmetic. Does anyone actually use the word any more?
1. (Mathematics) the branch of mathematics concerned with numerical calculations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
2. (Mathematics) one or more calculations involving numerical operations
3. (Mathematics) knowledge of or skill in using arithmetic his arithmetic is good
adj [ˌærɪθˈmɛtɪk] also "arith'metical
(Mathematics) of, relating to, or using arithmetic
[from Latin arithmētica, from Greek arithmētikē, from arithmein to count, from arithmos number]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
There you are - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Oh, how I loathed long division. Multiplication was a doddle. We had those tables drilled into our heads so well, that it was easy. And mental arithmetic meant many many fast tests to wake the mind. When my youngest son was at school, I remember having a total conniption when I found out they were being taught multiplication by counting. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 etc . That is the 2x table. So I barrelled in the door and asked how they were supposed to know their tables when they learned that way. That, I said, was counting in 2s. Using fingers. WHAT? So if I asked him what 9x2 was, he would gaze into space saying 9x2, 9x2, 9x2, waggling his fingers about......... hmmm. NO YOU DO NOT KNOW YOUR TABLES!! It should be instant. Well, said the teacher, I never learned mental maths when I was at school. I just looked at her. That, I said, is not my problem. My problem is that my son and all the other children in the class are required to know mental maths and that includes tables.
Sigh. I am old fashioned. No-one learns tables the old way any more. It is all about counting, and calculators, and fun, and while I am the first to say I want my children and grandchildren to love learning to have fun and to enjoy school, I also refuse to allow the fun to be the paramount goal. Surely it should be the acquisition of knowledge and being educated?
So I taught him his tables instead.When I was teaching, I covered many Maths classes. The head of Maths asked if I would teach a few classes, and I told him he must be out of his mind because the last time I did any formal Maths was in 1971, possibly before he was born. Ah yes, he said, but you were taught right. This was secondary school Maths he was talking about. Mind you, I had huge fun teaching it - we used to have races - me working things out on the board or mentally, and the kids on the calculators. I won. Every day. They could not believe it. I am a genius, clearly. My old headmistress would be rolling in her grave if she heard me say that. My maths skills were average, to say the least back then.
Before our Matric exams, which were public exams, set by boards, we had "voluntary" Saturday morning extra Maths classes with the head. She terrified the wits out of us all, so attendance was 100%. And when she walked up and down the rows of girls trying to do the problems she set, you frequently forgot to breathe. I remember her hand appearing over my shoulder, and a huge tick which went through about 27 pages of the book was scrawled and she bellowed "But CHILD (I was 17) You CAN do Maths!". Oh the relief. I could. I did. Do Maths.
Marge, my sister, was the Maths whizz. She was a Maths teacher before she married Peter and moved hemispheres. She loved Maths. I can't say I ever actually loved it. But I still remember BODMAS and all the other acronyms. I was really delighted when I googled it to see if the Internet still used it and there it was.
When I was at school, we had brown school suitcases just like this one below to carry our homework to and from school.
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