Symbols – a cautionary tale

Pentagram found on the Peace Park monument in Birmingham - it takes all sorts

  • Early in my teaching career I hit on an ‘opener’ lesson for algebra
  • I drew a variety of symbols on the whiteboard including the Hindu swastika (often seen around Birmingham painted on the ground near thresholds and doorways), a Pentagram, and a few others – the idea being that ‘symbols’ are really just lines drawn and the meanings are socially defined. Convention plays a major part on the way we write maths
  • It took months and several interventions by the (then) College Councillor to convince one student that I was not some kind of magus
  • Don’t use occult symbols of any kind, even as a lead in!!

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