A Miscellany of Mathematics (and Mathematicians!)

Ref: C2340682

Mathematics often gets a bad press: folk are happy - proud even - to admit that they are useless at it and almost despise it. And often, if one asks further about why this might be so, it derives from poor teaching in their early school years and so a lack of confidence in their own mathematical ability. Or maybe Maths is mistakenly equated to arithmetic and mental gymnastics. Well this course isn't about any of that stuff. In the tutor's opinion mathematics is like a glorious English landscape, full of lovely little villages and byways - 'topics less travelled' - or surprising edifices that make one gasp with their beauty or unexpectedness. Mathematicians too generally get a bad press, when in truth 'All human life is here' - gamblers and gluttons, drunkards and duellists - you name it and there'll have been a mathematician who has 'already been there, got the T-shirt!' Why not come along for the ride and get a new view of mathematicians and their creations.

Course aim

Maths often gets a bad press. But away from mundane multiplication tables & money matters, there's so much more to maths. This course aims to wander down the byways to seek out topics weird & wonderful - you'll never see maths in the same way again.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • This course is NOT about Adult maths skills or even basic arithmetic. It is about topics in maths that never normally appear in the school/college syllabus - conundrums and puzzles, constructions and challenges.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Show your friends seemingly impossible puzzles and demonstrate how to solve them: e.g. how to fit a larger shape through a smaller one that's exactly the same or how to create a one-sided piece of paper that can't be cut in half!
  • Give an account of various brain teasers and conundrums that mathematicians have solved over the centuries - for example: how to make ever smaller numbers add up to an ever larger - even infinite! - total
  • Create examples of fascinating shapes and play-things that will amuse and delight the senses, whilst at the same time offering a mathematical theme
  • Describe the features of maths that make it the 'Queen of the Sciences' - e.g. the concepts of proof and logic, and be able to give examples of the various sorts of proof -e.g. by logical steps, induction, etc.
  • Describe some of the incidents from the lives of mathematicians that support the claim 'All human life is here' - for example, the duellist who spent his last night writing down all the maths he could think of

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • With generally easy access to the Internet now, you will be encouraged to research futher the topics raised. A generous provision of Handouts is also aimed to encourage further reading in your own time.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • At the end of each session you will be given the opportunity to self-assess your learning in the session and record it on the Evaluation Slip provided.

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Some sessions will only need paper, pens (and perseverance!) On occasions you may like to have e.g. glue and cardboard at home to indulge your creative urge.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Just bring along your natural curiosity and skepticism and hopefully be prepared to be amazed every now and then.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

A Miscellany of Mathematics (and Mathematicians!)


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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