Mary Everest Boole
Mary Everest Boole

Mary Everest Boole

By: Olivia Bertram

Mary Everest Boole was born in England in 1832. Soon after her birth her father moved their family to Poissy France in order to cure his serious disease. She lived with her mother, Mary Ryall, her father, Dr. Thomas Everest, and her brother George Everest. Her family was very close to her Uncle George Everest. George Everest is most well know for the trigonometric survey of Mt. Everest. This survey allowed accurate measurement of the mountain. Mt. Everest was named after him. Her father was very interested in homeopathy. Homeopathy was a medical practice to prevent illness and promote healthiness. Some of these customs were extreme, but Boole stayed loyal to her father throughout it all. Poissy, France allowed Boole to be involved in different cultures and religions. She was a very smart child and from when she was a little girl she was interested in mathematics.
Mary Everest Boole was first introduced to mathematics through her tutor in France, Monsieur Deplace. Boole enjoyed his style of teaching because she did very well in her studies and enjoyed math very much. Mary recalled " Monsieur Deplace is a hero of my idyll. I wish though I know that the wish is vain, that I could convey any adequate impression of the way in which he enveloped my life with a protecting influence without the slightest interference with either my thoughts or my feeling." (http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/boole.htm, Frost, Michelle) She would later use his style of teaching in her own teaching. Dr. Thomas Everest moved the family back to England when Boole was eleven years old. At that time Mary Everest Boole was taken out of school and asked to work as her fathers apprentice. She was willing to help her father, but that did not stop her from learning. With her father and mothers permission she taught herself calculus with the help of books, and sermons she attended. Mary Everest Boole loved math very much but her mind was full of many questions about it. It was not until she took a trip to see her uncle that she had a chance to answer these questions.
While she was with her uncle, he introduced her to a mathematicion by the name of George Boole. George Boole at that time was a very famous mathematician, and he helped Boole with her math questions. Mary Everest Boole enjoyed her time with George Boole. When she moved back to England she wrote to him often and he came to England to become her tutor. George Boole taught Mary Everest Boole a lot a mathematics and answered many of her unanswered questions about math. George Boole and Mary Everest Boole became very good friends and were eventually married. Although Mary Everest Boole was seventeen years younger than George Boole their relationship was very strong. They had five daughters named Mary, Ethel, Margaret, Lucy, and Alicia Boole. After their last daughter was born George Boole got sick and passed away leaving Mary Everest Boole to care for all their children. ( http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/boole.htm , Frost, Michelle).

George Boole
George Boole

The year after her husband passed away Boole took a job at Queens college. Woman were not allowed to teach at schools, so even though she wanted to teach math there she had to take a job as a librarian. When she finally got a chance to teach she found she enjoyed working with children and was a very good teacher. She used her childhood tutors Monsieur Deplace's methods of teaching her own students. However she was fired from her librarian job because of controversy over her book, The Message of Psychic Science for Mothers and Nurses. ( **http://tinyurl.com/yzf68s9**, Peterson, Ivars) Although though she was fired from her job she continued to teach children mathematics.

She believed in many practices when teaching mathematics to children. She believed that children should be able to gain the skills at their own pace. Boole thought by giving children mathematical objects to play with their minds would develop at their own pace. She invented curve stitching cards, nowadays called string geometry. These cards help children learn geometry and the angles and space of geometry. In 1904 she wrote a book called The Preparation of the Child for Science. This book had a large impact on the progression of elementary schools in England as well as the United States. http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/boole.htm , Frost, Michelle.)

Mary Everest Boole also published a book by the name of The Philosophy, and Fun of Algebra. This book was meant to be read by children learning algebra for the first time. She defined algebra as "a method of solving problems by honest confession of one's ignorance." She introduced the concepts of algebra and the logic behind it. (http://tinyurl.com/yhf7dkc, Oakley, Patricia) Boole was not very fond of competitiveness. Like stated earlier she wanted the children to progress at their own pace and she felt competitiveness caused the children to become less likely to truly understand the mathematics.

Mary Everest tutored children informally and was well known for her teaching skills. (http://tinyurl.com/yzw7u8l) She even got recognized by the Head of the London Board of Education as an outstanding teacher. She was also well known for her " Sunday Night Conversation". In these conversations she and her students would talk about many things such as Hebrew, animals rights, logic, evolution, psychology, and other things. She enjoyed these conversations because she not only liked to teach these children but she also liked to provide some excitement for them. (http://tinyurl.com/ygzdmfx, Surendran, Dino). Most of her books were published after she died because some of them were controversial, for that time. The Victorian era was not ready for such methods dealing with psychology.
Mary Everest Boole's health soon began to fail and she passed away in 1916 at age 84. She left behind her five daughters, who also were very interested in math and carried on their mothers legacy. At a time where woman were not believed to be able to succeed in mathematics Mary Everest Boole showed the world that a woman could be as smart as a man and could make a impression on modern day society. She made a large impact on today's classroom mathematics. She changed the ways children in many school's learn mathematics.
Summary of Mary Everest Boole's Mathematical and Scientific Accomplishments-
Mary Everest Boole played a large part in the way modern day children learn mathematics. Boole was considered a mathematical psychologist. She enjoyed finding out ways different people learned mathematics and the way the brain handled it. She mainly interested in the way children learned math. She was fascinated by the way their minds reasoned and the physical and mental processes. Mary Everest Boole's styles of teaching can be seen in modern day classrooms. She said her main goal was " to understand how people and especially children learned mathematics and science, using the reasoning parts of their minds, their physical bodies, and their unconscious process.". (http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/boole.htm, Frost, Michelle.)
Boole also published many books. One of her most famous books was called Philosophy, the Fun, and Algebra. Boole made this book to explain to children why mathematics' is an important subject to learn. She answered a lot of questions that stumped her as a child, such as why learn algebra when you have already learned arithmetic? She answered "When people had only arithmetic and not algebra, they found out a surprising amount of things about number and quantities. But there remained problems which they very much needed to solve and could not. They had to guess the answer; and, of course, they usually guessed wrong. And I am inclined to think they disagreed. . . . Probably they quarreled, and got nervous and over strained and miserable, and said things which hurt the feelings of their friends. . . ."( **http://tinyurl.com/yzf68s9**, Peterson, Ivars) She explained the concept of x and explained how to use it. She took the hard concepts of algebra and broke them down into terms a child could understand. Some of the ways she did that, was by using biblical figures to explain a concept. Boole believed stongley in allowing children to learn at their own pace. Mary Everest Boole also invented Curve Stitching Cards. These cards were made to teach young children the basics of geometry. (More on Curve Stitching Cards below)
Her teaching styles, inventions, and books can been seen in the modern day classroom. She teaching style of hands on work is a popular way of teaching and her string geometry method is still in use. Her books continue to be read to help children learn mathematics. Without her large impact on the modern day classroom students would learn mathematics in an entirely different way than they do today. Mary Everest Boole used her knowledge of psychology and mathematics to greatly improve the modern day classroom.
Summary of One Major Mathematical Concept- Curve Stitching Cards:
Mary Everest Boole invented Curve Stitching Cards in 1904, today called String Geometry. Boole and some fellow teacher aids all wanted something to explain to young children the basics of geometry. That was where the idea of string geometry came from. Boole stated out using string and card stock and proved the theory that curves and angles can be made from perfectly straight lines. String Geometry allows the children to act hands on and learn geometry and it's angle from the stitching. Younger child can stitch simple shapes and with those basic shapes and learn the angles and the space of geometric shapes. Older children can stitch more difficult shapes and learn a higher level of geometry from those shapes. Boole taught her students with a lot of hands on activities because she believed it allowed them the chance to learn on their own and truly get a handle on the mathematics. She followed many teaching styles of her tutor in France, Monsieur Deplace.
Curve Stitching Example
Curve Stitching Example
By stitching these simple shapes, students are able to see the different angles and shapes of different geometric shapes. Mary Everest Boole believed in allowing her students to figure out the mathematics on their own and by allowing the children to stitch these geometric designs they were able to see on their own the geometric angles and spaces of the shapes.
Most Interesting Fact-
I found that fact that Mary Everest was a female mathematician when back then woman were looked down on in the mathematics area and not expected to pursue a career in math. Mary Everest Boole was an amazingly smart woman for her time and she was not afraid to show that. At an early age she showed that she wanted to pursue mathematics and she was fully aware that woman were not supposed to have jobs like that. Her father took her out of school at a young age, but that did not stop her from learning math. She taught herself calculus at a very young age. She attended sermons that were meant for adults and mainly men. For her age and time period she was a very bright child.
After George Boole died she began her new job as a librarian at Queens College (The oldest college in England). Woman were not permitted to work as a teacher in the college. Boole wanted to be a mathematics teacher very much but because she was not allowed to she tutored children informally. She not only found that she liked teaching she found she was quite good at it. She followed many teaching skills of her tutor in France, and added some of her own techniques. She soon had to quit her librarian job, because of controversy over her book The Message of Psychic Science for Mothers and Nurses. This did not stop her from teaching the children. She was recognized by the Head of the London Board of Education as a outstanding teacher. The fact that no matter how much controvery there was for woman being mathematicians, she did not let that get her she did what she loved. She changed the way children look at and learn mathematics and she will always be looked at as an outstanding female mathematician.

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