Culture vulture

17th September 2004 at 01:00
Mathematics makes the Earth go round for Graeme Browm

Best book ever

Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was executed by the Nazis in 1945, and this is a bundle of messages smuggled to family and friends on scraps of paper. I found it by accident in a college library. I don't read fiction. I read to follow an interest; then I stop and digest.

I've been working on maths materials at Bletchley Park (the wartime Enigma code-breaking centre) so I've been reading Andrew Hodges's Alan Turing: the enigma - a beautiful read - and Simon Singh's The Code Book. My favourite maths book is TW Korner's The Pleasures of Counting. It charms anyone into seeing how exciting, challenging and significant maths can be.

Favourite films

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (starring Jack Nicholson, pictured) had a massive impact on me at 17.

Music

If I hear someone on the radio talking about why they play the violin, I want to listen. It makes it personal. For example, I saw some Bruce Springsteen lyrics on www.brucespringsteen.net. I thought they seemed authentic so I listened to the music and it made the whole thing much deeper.

Maths in Museums

Maths is a lens for looking. You wouldn't be surprised if you saw kids doing art or creative writing in a museum. I want maths to be as culturally natural for children as language or music, as a process of visualisation, as a way of engaging with the world.

Favourite museums

I like Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire because I'm interested in the industrial revolution. And the North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish in County Durham. It has an atmosphere. It's the same at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, where I started doing Maths in Museums. When I'm there preparing, before anyone arrives, I can feel the present in the past.

Graeme Brown, 46, teaches maths at Wildern school, an 11-16 comprehensive in Hampshire, and runs Maths in Museums, a consultancy offering materials and workshops for children and teachers. Contact: graemebrownuk@hotmail.com. He was talking to Karen Gold

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