Paradigm, No. 5 (August, 1991)
Peter Wallis, Ruth Wallis, Peter Ransom, and John Fauvel Mathematical Tradition in the North of England (NEBMA, 12 Annaside Mews, Leadgate, Consett, DH8 6HL, 1991) A4, ii + 66 pp., ISBN O 9517323 0 7, £5 post free from publisher.
This is a fascinating, instructive and seminal booklet. Although prepared to accompany an exhibition at the 1991 conference of the Mathematical Association, the text is complete in itself and includes reproductions of the items that were on display. There are pages from textbooks, almanacs, journals, as well as some examples of pupils manuscripts.
The material is presented under 16 headings: textbooks, schools and school-masters, authors, philomaths, female philomaths, exercise books, etc. While the focus is on activity on one region, much light is also shed more widely in a number of ways. The regions links with other centres -- London and Cambridge, for example, are discussed, often by reference to the careers of eminent mathematicians. A broad view is taken of mathematics, including references to science and engineering. The text contains much background information about the teaching of mathematics which is of general relevance.
Buy this booklet! It will give you hours of pleasure; a review can only tempt you by mentioning some of the topics covered, but all sections are relevant and interesting. The text is written to stimulate and intrigue the reader; the illustrations -- over 100 of them -- provide their own commentary on the theme. The booklet presents a number of questions and a challenge to other regions in which such a cohesive mathematical tradition can be identified? It is to be hoped that this pioneering book will lead others to take up this challenge so tbM a more complete picture of mathematics education canbe built up.