Tag Archives: math literacy\numeracy

8 Immortals

“Chung-Li Chuan * Ho Hsien-ku * Chang Kuo * Lu Tung-pin * Han Hsiang-tzu * Ts’ao Kuo-chiu * Li T’ieh-kuai * Lan Ts’ai-ho

This Taoist pantheon of gods, heroes, and historical individuals had by the thirteenth century become a sort of national pantheon of Chinese saints. Painted on silk, depicted on vases, sculpted and used as a central motif in story telling, they are a ubiquitous element in art. They are also known as the Eight Immortal Scholars of the Han.

Chung-li Ch’uan is usually depicted as a bearded sage with fan; Ho Hsien-ku, as a young girl holding a lotus; Chang Kuo is a comical bearded figure mounted back to front on a white mule with a bamboo drum; Lu Tung-pin, the bearded patron of barbers, is equipped with a fly whisk and word slung across his back; Han Hsiang-tzu is a youthful flute player and the patron saint of musicians; Ts’ao Kuo-chiu is an elderly bearded figure (the patron of actors) usually seen playing castanets; Li T’ieh-kuai is a beggar with a gourd bowl and iron crutch; while Lan Ts’ai-ho is a woman holding a basket of flowers, who is (naturally) the patron saint of florists.

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

4 Sufi Questions

“How did you spend your time on earth? * How did you earn your living? * How did you spend your youth? * What did you do with the knowledge I gave you?

This is a traditional Sufi teaching about the passage of the soul after death, which is ushered before the throne of God and asked just these four questions. I first saw it on a poster in the office of Moroccan travel agent in Tangiers, but having failed to remember it properly was delighted to stumble across it thirty years later in Elif Shafak’s novel Honour.

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

The Weekly Text, April 5, 2019

Several years ago, the school administration under which I then served tasked me with developing math and science vocabulary in a group of struggling students. I wrote a unit on the fly, and then never used it because that fall I was summoned to jury duty (a stint which ended up lasting two months) in Bronx County.

This complete lesson plan on the word simplify and the concept of simplifying is one of the fruits of my labor. As I say, I never had a chance to actually deliver this lesson in the classroom. In any case, I envisioned starting the lesson with this extended context clues worksheet on the transitive verb simplify. The center of this lesson is this worksheet on simplifying numbers that a math teacher and I collaborated on to develop–he actually ended up teaching this lesson in my absence, and so provided some revisions after he’d had a crack at it. Finally, here is a learning support with definitions of the verbs simplify and solve.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

4 Humours

“Sanguine * Choleric * Melancholic * Phlegmatic

The Four Humours or Temperaments were a foundation of European medieval medical philosophy. The ideal was for a balance of the four, which were conceived to be based on the properties of blood (Sanguis), yellow bile (Khole), black bile (Melas), and Phlegm in the body.

A predominance of Sanguine was believed to create an easy-going, sociable, pleasure-seeking type. A choleric character was fiery, strident, and ambitious. Melancholic was watery and emotional and created thoughtful, introverted and intellectual types. Phlegmatic was slow and earthy but also governed the most relaxed, content and quiet of types.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Power of 100

“A hundred is a ubiquitous element of power and finance. If ancient Greek gods were angered the could be appeased with the bloodbath of hetacomb—the sacrifice of 100 oxen. A hundred was also long considered the largest group able to be governed by the command of one man. So there were 100 soldiers under the command of a Roman centurion; 100 slave-soldiers under the command of a mameluke emir; and, following the Roman model, there were 100 senators (two for each of the fifty states) in the US Senate. More prosaically, 100 units comprise all the major currencies of the world—be the yuan, yen, dollars, euros, rials, rupees, dinars, or pounds.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Love Game

Scratch * Duck * Love * Nil

“Sport makes much use of the concept of zero, loading it with a multitude of names. There is scratch in golf, coined from ‘scratching out’ any trace on a score card. In cricket, a batsman who gets zero scores a duck–the slang for a bird that lays an egg, the shape of a zero. And that is the origin, too, of the word ‘love’ in tennis, corrupted from the English trying to copy the French for egg–oeuf. Football, meanwhile, favours the Latin nil, from nihil–nothing.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Nirvana

“The Sanskrit word ‘Nirvana” means ‘blown out’: a profound peace of mind, a freedom from suffering, and union with the Brahma-like symbol for the universe.

As the Lord Buddha explains, ‘Where there is nothing; where naught is grasped, there is the Isle of No-Beyond. Nirvana do I call it–the utter extinction of aging and dying…That dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support. This, just this, is the end of stress.'”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.