Marshalling Resources

My family and I are just back from a week at the beach. Content from winning the Port Fairy boogie boarding championship,* I’ll soon get back to bashing the Australian curriculum and to other topics. First, a quick one, on some old books.

As is typical, the beach house where we stayed contained an odd assortment of games and DVDs and books. Oddest of the books was a selection from “The Marshall Cavendish Learning System”. These books are from the late 60s and rang the vaguest of bells, but I have no idea what the “learning system” was, if anything other than marketing, nor for whom the books were intended. The books, with no distinguishable authors, were published by the UK company Marshall Cavendish, which is now a Singaporean entity, or part of a Thai brewery, or something. God knows.

What is notable is that the books are good.

The “learning system” seemed to have consisted of six categories of books, with twelve books in each category. There were eleven of these books in the beach house, and I browsed a number of them; they were all interesting and well-written, serviceable and economical; in sixty or so pages, each book presented genuinely deep ideas in an intelligent manner. There was no flamboyance or fluff.

There were two mathematics books in the Physical Science category, one on pure mathematics and one on applied. Both were good, not always clear and not totally free from error, but the books intelligently introduced a selection of well-chosen topics.

The clear purpose of all the books was to educate rather than to entertain. Thus, and although the books are of course very dated, they seem fundamentally better than any modern equivalent. As I indicated, the books are good.

*) Imaginary victories are just as valid.

17 Replies to “Marshalling Resources”

    1. Thanks, Glen and JF. What makes you think they were “part of a curriculum”, of Singapore or anywhere? (I’m not even sure what that means.)

      1. I wasted 10 minutes doing an internet search. They are not necessarily written as part of a curriculum but they were written for Singapore.

        They give a new meaning to “Holler for a Marshall”

          1. I can’t find the web page now (I looked at quite a few dozen), but it was clear from one of the Marshall Cavendish pages. I remember thinking “Of course!”

  1. It seems that they were taken over by ThaiBev who make Chang Beer and Oishi green tea. These kept me saneish in my years in Thailand.

  2. Reminds me of a mathematics book that I was given for Christmas by my aunt, probably 65 years ago; it was called “Man must measure”; I really can’t remember much about the book, but it is a nice memory I have of the book – and my aunt; thanks for the memory.

    1. I thought it might have been written on clay tablets, but apparently not: See here. As with many books from a bygone era, it looks very good. By the same author as Mathematics for the Million.

    2. Interesting. The book now seems as rare as hen’s teeth. It’s by Hogben, who wrote the hugely popular Mathematics for the Million. (How much the book was read is another question.) Hogben seems to have been a very interesting guy. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

      I like Scandinavians, skiing, swimming and socialists who realize it is our business to promote social progress by peaceful methods. I dislike football, economists, eugenicists, Fascists, Stalinists, and Scottish conservatives. I think that sex is necessary and bankers are not.

      There’s also a (paywalled) review of a published Hogben lecture, from an economist who clearly disliked Hogben’s dislike. (The lecture doesn’t seem to be available electronically, but I’m getting it from Monash.)

  3. I do like old books… Which reminds me, someone a while ago recommended books by an (American?) mathematician with an Asian name. Any suggestions? I’ve just bought a number of Tony Gardiner’s books (ie. Alpha, Beta & Gamma) and eagerly await their arrival. It also obliquely reminded me of a question that one of my lecturers asked, namely “Who resonates most with you regarding differentiation?”. My response: “I’m a big fan of Erwin Kreyszig. Are you familiar with his work..?”. Um, no she wasn’t…

    1. It took me an embarrassing while to get that joke.

      Gardiner’s Greek books are great. The American guy you’re thinking of was possibly Hung-Hsi Wu, who is excellent and who has been mentioned a number of times in comments on this blog.

      I’m intending to publish a “Resources” post in the next day or two.

      1. Hung-Hsi Wu – yes, that’s the fellow! Hey, at least you eventually got that joke – my lecturer didn’t. Posting on ‘Resources’ is an excellent idea. I’ve been searching high and low for great textbooks so your idea is very timely. I managed to find a copy of ‘Reasoning and Data’ by Fitzpatrick, Galbraith and Henry. Not many about but will complement my wonderful F&G Pure and Applied texts from the 70s/80s.

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