I wouldn't claim that Maths was one of my strong points.
It all came from having been put up a class in Infants School on account of my reading ability only to find myself
all at sea on my numbers. So while the rest of my class were chanting "Two twos are four", I was still trying to work out how to draw my 5s and my 2s the right way round. Which, if you can remember back to your five year old self, was Always A Problem.
I did catch up eventually but those early days left me definitely lacking in confidence where All Things Mathematical were concerned. Words were just so, so much easier to understand than numbers. Even today, offer me
a choice between a crossword and sudoku and it'll be 10 across and 5 down every single time.
I was thinking of those Infant School days this morning when I sat in on a lesson in Numicon - a whole new approach
to teaching maths - at the school where I am lucky enough to be a governor. We had been introduced to the concept at a Governors' Meeting but there's nothing like a bit of practical experience to hammer a message home.
Numicon involves the pupils in working out mathematical problems using different coloured plastic tiles, each with a specific number of holes in them. So, for example, if you take the blue tile with its ten holes and place a green tile with its four
holes on top of it - hey presto! subtraction (or, as I must learn to call it, taking away) made easy. Much easier than using your fingers, don't you know?
I tell Mr B all about it when I get home. Mr B has
never suffered from lack of confidence in dealing with numbers - when he was a Working Man many of his fellow workers would contact him every payday so that he could check they had paid the right amount of tax and had received the correct remuneration based
on hours worked, including overtime at time and a half or double time, depending on circumstances. This is the other main difference between Mr B and me, numerically speaking. Not for him the intricacies of trigonometry, algebraic equations or squares on hypotenuses.
No, his expertise lies in sound, practical application of mathematical principles. I know which I think is most useful in everyday, adult life.
In the old days when we used to go on holiday, before the advent
of the Euro when every European country had its own currency, Mr B would prepare charts converting English money into pesetas, or francs or Deutschmarks or whatever. One for him and one for me. See what I mean - straightforward, practical application. Next
week when I set off to join the Middle of the Darling Daughters and her family on holiday in Alicante (or Ally Canty, as Young Faris prefers to call it) I will be without my own personal Money Calculator. I expect I shall muddle through but I shall miss the
comforting reassurance of Mr B's detailed calculations.
I spend the afternoon at a Community Forum on the subject of Holding An Event in Worthing. I count up that there are over twenty participants which is
pretty good going considering that last week only ten organisations had signed up to come. Everyone here is involved in a Numbers Game and it's a deadly serious business because voluntary and community organisations can't survive and thrive unless they can
bring in funds - and numbers of volunteers to help them make a difference.
This week is National Volunteers Week. Did you know that last year in Worthing alone 1031 volunteers put in something like 81,900
hours of voluntary work? If they had all been paid for the work they undertook, it would have cost a staggering £908,426. No, I must admit I didn't do the maths myself, I took the figures out of Voluntary Action Worthing's last Annual Report. But it's
mind-blowing when you think of it. These are, indeed, Big Numbers.
So let's hear it for the volunteers! No numbers, however large, can fully express the value they bring to a local community. Just because
And because they care.