Wednesday, October 18, 2006

At number eight...

A reminder: the task in hand is to come up with my top ten, best ever maths textbooks, from a Scottish perspective (of course).

So, number eight in The Summys:

Jings, but this is proving difficult. Maybe it's no surprise, given that UK publishers regard Scotland as a curious creature, and insist on mailing Scottish maths teachers with exciting news of forthcoming English titles that will guarantee effective delivery of KS3 or KS4. Like we have even the slightest clue what that means. So, genuinely Scottish texts are pretty thin on the ground.

Well, let me get both indulgent and mysterious here. I'm awarding position number eight to a textbook that I don't know the name of, but which nevertheless kept me good company throughout my formative years. I'm talking about the series of textbooks which I used at Primary School and I trust you'll forgive me for not having noted down the ISBN at that point (this would be back in the 70's).

This book was probably one of the first to atempt anything like "friendly" maths, though I do think a hefty dose of set theory was in there too... but my main memory of the text is that there was a wee character called "Abe", who was made up out of bits of an abacus (Abe, geddit?), and who popped up at the side of the page almost as often as that hugely bloody annoying paperclip does in MS Word.

Were the books really up to scratch? Who knows. But just like old Proust confronted with a Jaffa cake, I only have to see the slightest glimpse of an abacus or a Venn diagram to be transported to la recherce du mathematiques perdu.

Unfortunately Abe can't be here tonight, having only recently checked into the Jessica Rabbit Rehab Clinic for Fallen Comic Characters, but accepting the award tonight on his behalf is Marcel himself. What a trooper!

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