Friday, November 4, 2011

Remember, Remember the 5th November

When I was a child growing up in England one of the poems I learned by heart in school was;

     Remember, remember the 5th November
     the gunpowder treason and plot
     I see no reason the gunpowder treason
     should ever be forgot.
     Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
     t'was his intent
     to blow up the King and the Parliament
     Three score barrels of powder below
     Poor old England to overthrow
     By God's providence he was catch'd
     With a dark lantern and burning match
     Halloa boys, halloa boys make the bells ring
     Halloa boys, halloa boys, God save the King
                                               Hip, hip, hoorah.

The poem commemorates the deeds of Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament during a ceremonial opening by King James I in 1605. Every year on November 5th children and their families light bonfires, topped with a stuffed effigy of Guy made from old clothes, in their back yards and let off fireworks. Such was the excitement of it all that the word "fifth" now can mean nothing else to me, and probably every other British person, than November 5th,

This is a wonderful example of how out cultures are ingrained with numbers. Not only our cultures but our subcultures and our individual lives. 89 can mean nothing else to me than I89, the Interstate road that I drive on twice a day to and from St. Mike's. 217 is important to me because it is my house number while 19 has a special place because it is the day I was born on. What numbers are important in your culture and  in your life? These significant numbers are important to children as they learn math in school and see its relevance in their daily lives.

Students in my ED325 Teaching Math and Science course will soon be completing their Math eNotebook assignment in which they have to find the math in their favorite past-time or activity. Hopefully, graduates from my course will be able to help children see just how relevant math is in their lives in not only a utilitarian sense but in an aesthetic sense as well.  

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