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    Re: No Lunars Era
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2004 Dec 6, 15:05 -0400

    Alex wrote:
    > P.S. 1828 Norie is especially interesting to me, not only because of
    > navigation, but also from the point of view of my main profession:
    > mathematical education. It tells me a lot about the general state
    > of mathematical education in England in the beginning of XIX century...
    I suspect that it gives a very misleading impression of education there
    at that time.
    Unlike New England, where some successful merchants seem to have sent
    their sons to sea to learn one end of the business, the masters and
    mates of British merchant ships pre-1850 were not drawn from the middle
    class (captains of East Indiamen excepted) and of course not from the
    upper class. Meanwhile, until the 1870s (or was that the 1860s?), there
    was no general expectation that working-class boys would receive any
    formal education at all. Norie had to write for readers whose only
    exposure to mathematics, beyond basic arithmetic, was as part of their
    instruction in navigation. (Some of his readers will have known more but
    he had to provide for those who did not.)
    The more frightening thing would be to examine the sad state of
    mathematical education in England's public schools (which any other
    nation would regard as private schools) at the time. It is no accident
    that Germany rapidly surpassed Britain in most technical matters during
    the 19th century and much of the cause lies in the refusal of England's
    public schools to provide early education in math or the sciences.
    It might be interesting to look at the textbooks that young Royal Navy
    officers used when studying navigation. They were products of the middle
    and upper classes, who should have had the benefits of public school
    educations when they were not taught at home by private tutors. Then
    again, they were sent to sea at an age when few modern school children
    would yet have much comprehension of trigonometry or even logarithms.
    Trevor Kenchington
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus{at}iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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