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Mathematical Treasure: Mary Boole on the Teaching of Arithmetic

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Mary Everest Boole (1832-1916) was the wife of the British mathematician George Boole. A self-trained mathematician in her own right, she authored several works on didactical aspects of mathematics: the psychology of learning mathematics and methods of teaching the subject. Her Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic (1903) offers advice to the teacher of young children.

Title page of Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

The table of contents supplies a scope of the topics considered and provides insights into her theories.

First page of table of contents from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Second page of table of contents from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

In the “Introductory Address to Young Teachers,” Mary Boole offered personal advice on the teaching of mathematics.

First page of "Introductory Address" from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Second page of "Introductory Address" from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Some excerpts from the book help to cast light on the author’s ideas and methodology.

First page of  Chapter II from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

First page of Chapter IV from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Page 104 from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

“Chapter XXI: The Dog’s Path” is a particularly interesting problem-solving situation.

Page 132 from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Page 133 from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Page 134 from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Page 135 from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

Page 136 from Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic by Mary Boole, 1903

The images above are supplied through the courtesy of the University of California Libraries. The work may be viewed in its entirety in the Internet Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Mary Boole on the Teaching of Arithmetic," Convergence (August 2018)

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