Daily Life Arithmetic: Grade Eight by Guy T. Buswell et. al., published by Ginn and Company
Five out of five stars
My father and his siblings attended Lind School, a one-room school in what was then rural Iowa. When that school was closed and turned into a house, my family acquired many of the textbooks and this is one of them. If you open it and take a deep sniff, there is the still the faint odor of a wood burning stove.
Published in 1938, the content was developed while the United States was still in the grip of the Depression, therefore the numbers used in the examples are quite different from the modern books. For example, there is a problem that mentions a day’s wage as being fifty cents. At that time in Iowa, there was mandatory education up through the eighth grade and the high school graduation rate was lower. Therefore, for many of the students, this was the textbook for their final math course.
While this is labeled as a book in arithmetic, the modern terminology would be “consumer math.” For the content is almost exclusively worked examples of problems that the average person would, and still does, face on a regular basis. Computing percentages, measuring and converting distances, tax computations, graphing changes over time, interest computations and price changes are some of the problems that are used in the instruction. There is a short section of geometry, specifically calculating the surface area and volume of geometric figures. A short chapter on algebra is also included.
There are two points of special interest. The first is that while the Pythagorean Theorem is covered, it is never called that, it is always referred to as the hypotenuse law. The second is that the wolf, goat and cabbage problem appears in the section called “Some Old Problems.” Definitely making it an oldie and a goodie.
One positive aspect of this book is the quality of the explanations of why the mathematical topics need to be understood. Modern authors of math textbooks could learn a few things from how these writers explained the topics. While math may not have changed much, the way it is explained has.