God Works in Wondrous Ways

We went to a strange jungle-bookshop yesterday, hunting for copies of the mythical Fitzpatrick and Galbraith. No such luck, but we did find plenty of fascinating and forgotten items. And, below is the lovely shop assistant Jill, totalling our many purchases.

Of course we rebuked Jill for not doing the sum in her head.

We’ll write about some of these very interesting finds in the near future.

21 Replies to “God Works in Wondrous Ways”

  1. A friend found copies of F&G in her garage. I encouraged her to keep them.

    Today I had CRT work; supervising tests; I estimate that 10% of students did not have their calculator with them.

    1. And if you’d been supervising an English test, I’d bet that at least 10% would not have their dictionary with them. Students attending assessments without allowed materials and hoping at the last minute that someone will have a spare calculator or a spare dictionary etc. is a perennial problem. And I’ve lost count of the number of students who turn up to VCAA exams either without a bound reference (I include bringing the textbook in this category) or with a bound reference that does not conform with VCAA specifications.

  2. Care to share the name of this “strange jungle-bookshop” (although it looks like you’ve picked it clean of all the good stuff)?

    1. Abracardabra, in Kew East. There were still plenty of arithmetic (and a few other) texts or semi-texts from around the 20s or 30s. Mostly encumbered by applications and horrible units. Some university handbooks and year books, lots of school year books, stuff like that. Definitely some other things I *might* have bought, more VEM issues etc, but I don’t think much else among official education documents.

  3. I recall an old English mathematics text book which had problems like this.

    Workers are asked to dig a channel of a given size. An Englishman can dig at such a rate and is paid at a certain rate. A foreigner can dig at a certain (slower) rate and is paid at a certain (lower) rate. etc

  4. I reached out to my dear old school friend who, as expected, just happened to have Fitzpatrick & Galbraith (reprinted 1983) stashed in a box in his shed. They will be mailed to me during the week and I’ll be fascinated to compare them to current texts as I hadn’t seen these since way back. 🙂

  5. I bought a book of chess problems recently – an old book – and it arrived yesterday. A previous owner had left his or her London bus tickets in the book. They generated nice thoughts.

  6. My book hunting experience might not sound as good as yours, gentlemen.
    At the start of the year I was lucky to get a copy of “Data and Reasoning” by Fitzpatrick&Henry from a gentleman – big name in VCE maths. Will keep trying my luck for similar textbooks if possible.
    As mentioned earlier, these gems tend to be thrown away. Good old times are gone.

    1. Unfortunately you can’t even find these books in libraries anymore. The attached is not the same as the book, but it’s better than nothing (you can get lucky on the internet sometimes).

      (Attachment removed by Marty).

      1. Thanks for sharing John.
        You are really omniscient.
        I think I possibly know where this pdf comes from.

        1. There actually was a site that had the pdf. I tried to find it, in the spirit of providing a hint as to where to find such things, but it looks like the site has disappeared. Which is a great pity. With libraries throwing out these books and a refusal of copyright holders to allow digital publication, many of these out-of-print books are going to be lost for good in the coming decades. So much for the information age …

      2. Sorry, John, et al. I removed the attachment. I’m ok having subtle, or perhaps even unsubtle, hints as to where to find such things. But I’m not comfortable linking to or hosting such material.

        1. Understood Marty, but if anyone could provide any assistance with locating / acquiring a copy of Fitzpatrick & Galbraith (or any other recommended texts with relevantly similar content) I’d greatly appreciate it. If it needs to be done via more private channels, then I’m happy to provide my details.

  7. Is anyone familiar with the South Australian Haese and Harris year 11 and 12 books from late 80s early 90s? When I used them as a student back then, I thought they were reasonable, but maybe they weren’t great. It’s hard to be sure without looking at them now. One thing that I remember about them that I like, is that they were rather thin books because they weren’t filled with unnecessary photographs like most modern high school textbooks are.

    1. Hi, Bell. I’m curious, and I imagine Haese and Harris are much better than the current texts, although I doubt that they are all that good. The “Haese and Haese” book for IB is excellent, and I imagine whichever Haese your is, they wrote well. But, it is impossible to write a good text for a bad curriculum. I doubt the SA curriculum was all that good at the time.

      1. Hi Marty,
        Just in case this is of interest to you (and my apologies if it isn’t), here’s a list of topics that I remember being taught from SA in 1992:
        Mathematical induction — this was pretty well done if my memory is correct.
        Complex numbers (including dealing with polynomials with complex coefficients)
        Sequences and series (probably mostly arithmetic and geometric sequences)
        Vectors in the plane and in 3-D space.
        Matrices (mostly 2 by 2, some stuff about transformations in the plane)
        Geometry (a little bit of Euclidean style proofs and also vector style proofs)
        Limits of functions (usual handwaving approach)
        Differentiation with the usual applications (curve sketching, optimisation etc)
        Integration (including integration by substitution and integration by parts)
        Conic sections (including conics with axes rotated from the horizontal and vertical)

        Of course my memory is flawed, but I feel pretty certain that those topics were covered in the subjects called Maths 1 and Maths 2. This may give you an idea of what the curriculum was like at the time.

        1. Thanks, Bell. The topics give some sense of the curriculum, but what also matters is the depth, the manner of assessment and the extent of the technological perversion.

          1. You are right about that Marty, and after all these years I can’t remember much about the depth or the assessment. The technological perversion was low by today’s standards — we used scientific calculators (which didn’t give exact values of trigonometric functions etc).

            Whatever happened back then, my mind has since been severely warped by hanging out with actual mathematicians.

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