Math Humor, and Some Copywork Resources

[Rescued from my old blog.]

I have been reading up on Charlotte Mason’s teaching style, and I plan to incorporate more copywork and dictation into our school program next year. Here are a few of my favorite funny quotes about math. (These would also make great blackboard quotes for a math classroom.)

Arithmetic is neither fish nor beast; therefore it must be foul.

—Anonymous

Mathematics: a wonderful science, but it hasn’t yet come up with a way to divide one tricycle among three little boys.

—Earl Wilson

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.

—Anonymous (similar to a comment by Morris Kline)

I pulled these quotations from the book Dictionary of Mathematical Quotations by Donald Spencer. Quotes range from thought-provoking to inane, including an assortment of “anonymous” bumper-sticker or T-shirt quotes not usually included in a quotation book. I do wish Spencer had included documentation with the quotes. Even though I’d probably never look them up, I’d like to know where they came from. Even more, I wish he’d included a more thorough subject index. The quotes are alphabetical by author, but when I wanted references to “algebra” or “history,” the only way to find them all was to read every page. Maybe in the next edition? [Unfortunately, the book seems to be out of print, and the used book stores are scalping customers. Yikes! I can’t believe a $99 price tag for a thin paperback.]

If you’d like to add mathematical copywork to your school repertoire, you might find the following online sources more useful:

Furman University Mathematical Quotations Server
http://math.furman.edu/%7Emwoodard/mquot.html

Platonic Realms Math Quotes
http://www.mathacademy.com/pr/quotes/index.asp

The Quotations Page
http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/mathematics/

The Chemistry Coach
http://www.chemistrycoach.com/quotations.htm
(site has gone AWOL)


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