From the editor - Plus Magazine
I went out for a great walk along the riverbank yesterday – a look at the wading birds, round onto the beach, a quick snack sitting in the sand dunes, followed by a brisk walk back to the car. I thought I’d left myself plenty of time to come home and get myself ready for the week ahead but when I logged on to my emails I found a colleague had forwarded me the link to the latest issue of Plus magazine – and I was hooked. Several hours later I still had un-ironed shirts and unwritten reports but felt mentally stimulated. Let me take you on a tour:
How could I fail to be engaged by an opening sentence that said “When I was nine I was an origami master.” I’ve always been interested in origami – I like to use some paper-folding as a way of pupils following instructions in unfamiliar contexts which end up with a hands-on resource to aid their problem solving with shapes – but this article took the art of origami into another realm and proved fascinating reading.
I’m not a bell ringer, but I could not fail to be impressed by the level of intricacy and commitment demonstrated by the bell ringers in this article. When ringing bells, one of the grand goals is to ring a sequence that includes every possible change. This is known as an ‘extent’. It talks about the longest extent that has been performed with one ringer to a bell: “With one ringer per church bell, probably the largest extent that is humanly possible is an extent on eight bells. This has apparently been achieved only once, at the Loughborough Bell Foundry in 1963. The ringing began at 6.52am on July 27, and finished at 12.50am on July 28, after 40 320 changes and 17 hours 58 minutes of continuous ringing, and an unknown number of complaints to the police.” And the ringers are not allowed ‘music’ or aide memoires!
Other articles included ‘Uncoiling the spiral: Maths and hallucinations’, ‘How long is a day?’ and ‘Modelling catastrophes’. All of which kept me away from the ironing. And is this a good thing? I feel lucky that I am drawn to reading about mathematically-related topics and know that colleagues are also interested by mathematical websites, magazines and articles – but how does this help our teaching? Is it just a leisure interest or is it a form of professional development?
Have you looked at the NCETM Excellence in Mathematics Leadership microsite? Looking at the Core Responsibilities on the Secondary part of the site (Developing a common purpose and developing a shared culture) there is specific mention professional discussions about mathematics: ‘Mathematics and the teaching of it are discussed regularly, both formally and informally, as a matter of habit’. Building up a culture within the department where staff (and students) regularly talk about mathematics is an integral part of our professional life – what a good thing it is so enjoyable!
If you have a good way of encouraging mathematical talk within your department, why not tell us about it?