Tag Archives: numeracy

The Weekly Text, 28 October 2022: A Lesson Plan on Expenditures by Americans from The Order of Things

This week’s Text, based on material adapted from Barbara Ann Kipfer’s endlessly fascinating reference book The Order of Things, is a lesson plan on expenditures by Americans. The only think you’ll need for this lesson as it is currently constituted is this worksheet with a list as reading and comprehension questions.

I conceived of this series of lessons (and may write more if I need them) as a way of helping students who struggle when asked to deal with two symbolic systems (language and numbers in this case) at the same time. These are simple readings and worksheets designed as much as anything to help build confidence in students in their ability to learn.

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.

24 Angulas Make a Forearm…And 24 Palms Make a Man

“24 Angulas Make a Forearm…

“Twenty-four angulas make one hasta, which is one of the universal measurement units of mankind—the length of forearm measured out to the extended middle finger. The hasta is a unit of measurement devised by the Harappan (the most ancient of India’s urban civilizations along the Indus) and akin to the cubit used in Sumeria (the most ancient urban culture of Iraq) and ancient Egypt.

It seems that the basic Harappan unit was formed from the width of eight barley grains placed side by side, which was found to be equal to a finger’s width (roughly 1.76cm). Twelve of these finger-widths/barley rows made an angula, while a dhanus (the length of a bow) was assessed as 108 of these finger-width/barley rows. Anything with ‘108’ in it was deemed to be very propitious in India and the East and so it was a favorite unit in which to design a citadel or a wall.

The use of barley as the ultimate foundation stone of measurement appears to be another universal element (alongside the forearm, the foot, and the breadth of a finger), so that, for instance, you will find it underwriting the system of measurements used by the Vikings. But there has always been room for financial manipulation and speculation, especially from the great rival of barley, the slightly lighter wheat seed. Four wheat seeds equal three of barley, which are themselves considered to be on par with the seed from a carob tree.”

…And 24 Palms Make a Man

Four fingers make a palm, and six palms make a cubit, and four cubits make a man who should therefore be twenty-four palms in height. The other rule of male proportion is that, like the Emperor Charlemagne and King Edward I of England, we should stand six times the length of our foot. Half the length of the foot is also the extent of the average erect penis—which comes in at an average of just under six inches. A much greater mystery is whether the navel or the base of the penis is the center of a man.”

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.

Euclid

Here is a reading on Euclid along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. This is, as so many of the readings from the Intellectual Devotional series tend to be, a nice one-page conspectus on the author of The Elements, and the influences that led to the creation of this, essentially the world’s first first geometry textbook–which is, unsurprisingly, available across the internet in a variety of PDFs. The first one that pops up (under that hyperlink) is from a physicist named Richard Fitzpatrick at the University of Texas; it’s free of advertising clutter and, to the extent of my limited knowledge of the subject, well organized.

Also, in researching this post, I learned that the first of the five volumes in the Intellectual Devotional series is available as a free e-book under that hyperlink (at least at the time of this post’s publication), should you be interested.

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.

Pi

OK, moving along to a subject that I really cannot teach (mathematics), here is a reading on pi along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I guess that’s pretty much all there is to say about that.

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.

7 Colours of the Visible Spectrum

These seven colours can be remembered through the mnemonic ‘Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain.’”

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.

Word Root Exercise: Tetra-

Phew. I am on track to publish 30 blog posts this morning. So, to reach that number, here is a worksheet on the Greek word root tetra. It means four. You’ll find this root at the base of words (all present in this document) such as tetragon, tetrahedron, tetrapod, and tetravalent. If you’re teaching math or science or both, this worksheet might be useful (but it might not–those aren’t my subjects, alas).

If you find typos in this document, 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.

Power of 12

“One of the cornerstones of human life is that there are twelve months in a year. Recent archaeological discoveries suggest that we have been notching off the days of the cycle of the moon for hundreds of thousands of years, using stone tools to mark bone. And it must have been one of our first pieces of inherited science that the counting off of twelve moons fitted magically into the annual miracle of the changing seasons. As there are (very nearly) thirty days in each lunar month, one of the very first joys of multiplication must have been that when multiplying these twelve months by thirty, you create 360, which is (roughly) how many days there are in the year. So we have always divided up the heavens—and any circles we come across—into 360 degrees.

The added harmony of the tides, and the female cycle of fertility fitting into the lunar months, provided further proof that there was a pattern and an order to the world. And one of those patterns was very clearly that twelve moons make one year. This innate power of twelve was further reinforced when the heavens, through which the sun was imagined to process, were also neatly divided into twelve segments. Each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac were allotted 30 degrees of the Heavenly circle very early on in mankind’s construction of an ordered world. This would later be reinforced by other twelvefold divisions, aspiring to create the same graceful, ordered inevitability.

These twelvefold divisions of the night sky and the moon also made for very easy organization. A clan or a district could become associated with a particular month, and so, whether it was taking turns to guard a citadel, provide food for a shrine or furnish a choir for the temple at the next full moon, it became almost a natural habit of mankind to form themselves into twelve.”

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.

Word Root Exercise: Tri

Moving right along this morning, here is a worksheet on the Latin word root tri. Do I need to tell you that it means three, and is found (as it is in this document) in such high-frequency words in English as triangle, triathlon, and triad?

I didn’t think so.

If you find typos in this document, 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.

The 23 Enigma

“In Tangier in 1960 the Beat writer William Burroughs met a sea captain called Captain Clark, who boasted to him that he had never had an accident in twenty-three years; later that day Clark’s boat sank, killing him and everyone on board. Burroughs was reflecting on this, that same evening, when he heard a radio report about a plane crash in Florida: the pilot was another Captain Clark and the plane was Flight 23. From then on Burroughs began noting down incidents of the number 23, and wrote a short story, 23 Skidoo.

Burroughs’ friends Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea adopted the ’23 Enigma’ as a guiding principle in their conspiratorial Illuminatis! Trilogy. Twenty-threes come thick and fast: babies get 23 chromosomes from each parent; 23 in the I-Ching means ‘breaking apart’; 23 is the psalm of choice at funerals; and so on. All nice examples of selective perception or, as Wilson put it, ‘When you start looking for something you tend to find it.’ The composer Alban Berg was also obsessed with the number, which appears repeatedly in his opera Lulu and in his violin concertos.”

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.

56 Pillars

“In prehistoric Britain, fifty-six stone pillars stood in the outer circle of Stonehenge. In more recent times, the National War Memorial in Washington, erected after World War II, commemorates the dead with fifty-six pillars (also the number of signatures on the 1776 Declaration of Independence of the thirteen states). And in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the People’s Republic, fifty-six towering red columns were erected to represent the ‘equal, united and harmonious’ ethnic groups of China.”

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.