adventures in unschooling

Murderous Maths

Cassius’ wonderful learning consultant forwarded us this message from another Self Design Parent:

“Murderous Maths – we have them all, and my son LOVES them. He does not understand all the concepts as they are quite sophisticated, but he enjoys reading the cartoons and jokes and he is getting the basic ideas behind the concepts as a result. When I purchased these, it was mainly for my own interest and I did not expect my 7-year-old would look at them, let alone walk around for days on end giggling whilst reading them. But he has – and I feel that some huge step has been taken for making Math fun and interesting and not about worksheets, or “boring sums” as per the back of each book (i.e. no boring sums are in these books).

The actual math in each book is clearly explained on this site: You’ll need to scroll a little. You’ll see why this is not Math for a 7-year-old – but he is getting the idea.

For some bizarre reason, these books are only published and distributed in the U.K. You can get them through Fun Books in the states.”

Since Cassius loves the horrible histories and I know he learns through humour I thought we’d try them out. They are wonderful! I’ve been up to midnight every night this week because I can’t put them down. Cassius has been reading all the cartoons and we’re half way through reading the first book together.

We actually can’t stop ourselves from working out the problems. In the first book Colonel Cancel needs to buy back his men’s clothes from Thag the Mathemagician. He has 13 pieces of clothes buy back. He can either pay a penny for the first and and double the amount for each following item (1 cent , then 2 cents, then 4 cents and so on), or he can pay one dollar for the first and one dollar more per item ($1 , then $2, then $3 etc.). Which way do you think would be the smartest way to pay?

These books aren’t just funny, they are intelligent. They really make math seem interesting and amazing. If Cassius reads all these books he’ll know more than I ever learned in school about math, even if he never does one boring sum.

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