During the sixties, 18 months was spent as a student teacher in Coventry England, as it happened I was given a class full time rather than just assisting qualified teachers; the teachers union eventually forced the end of that practice.
At that time the multiplication tables were printed separately on the exercise books-2 to 12 times.
Some time during the 18 months as a student teacher, with the help of my class of 7 to 8 year olds, we condensed the 11 tables into one grid, identical to the one used today.
In 1964 -67 I attended the Birmingham University School of Education. Commonly referred to as the Coventry Teachers College. It was customary to engage in a period of teaching practice, in the local schools each year of college. I may have used the grid one my teaching practices, I cannot be certain.
A short period before graduation ,when students were sending out applications, My Headmaster from my student teaching days, came to the college and personally instructed me not to apply for a job, because one was waiting for me back at the school under is care.
After teaching for two years at Spon Gate Primary , I made the decision to return to Barbados. The English cold made me an unhappy camper. No doubt I continued to use the multiplication grid until the end of 1969;when I returned to Barbados and the sea and sun.
Unfortunately I did accept a teaching job at a secondary school that lasted only a few hours, there was a dispute with the Education department and my salary. Recruited English teachers with the same qualifications were being paid a higher salary plus housing allowance.
My attention was then focused on a career in art; teaching and education never entered the picture again until I suffered a stroke in 2013; In an effort to test my cognitive function, I went back to school and the grid.
The result is the redesigning the multiplication grid, to a new maxplication grid that multiplies 2 to nine digit numbers by 2 to 9.
When I informed the headmaster, that I was leaving to return to Barbados , he was not only disappointed but very angry, so much so that he wrote me a very unsavory reference letter, that I had requested.
Until that moment I had nothing but respect and admiration for the headmaster. I was not very puzzled and hurt, because he never once complained about my teaching.
The thought did cross my mind to take the reference letter to the local newspaper; they had followed and reported on my career as a teacher, chairman of the overseas students association, a local theatre group and a member of the Coventry Race Relations board.
An appointment was sought with the then Director of Education, who also knew me personally as a teacher and chairman of the overseas students association, which was also under his stewardship.
The director must have read my mind; he tore up the letter and produced a file from a filing cabinet in his office.
and took out a series of reports all written by my headmaster.
“Here read this one, it is your headmaster ‘s latest report, he is upset you are leaving to go back home.”
The report almost brought tears to my eyes, It was a glowing report, full of praise and admiration.
The director then wrote me a reference letter, which I never used or had to use; the local education authority never asked for one.
Some nine years after returning to Barbados a hand written letter was delivered to me by a fellow Bajan, who had returned home for a holiday; he played cricket with the headmaster. It was a letter of apology, explaining the hurt he felt at my departure.
Along with the apology was an offer of help with anything, if I ever needed it. I did ask for help in tracing someone close and dear to me; who I had lost contact with, but I believed still lived in Coventry.
He did honor his promise, in less than a month I received a call informing me of a telephone number of a comprehensive school; where I could relieve my sorrow and enjoy some inner peace. My heart filled thanks was conveyed, and there was never any further contact.
I am hoping someone out there; even my former headmaster could answer my question as to when the multiplication grid was printed on the backs of exercise books.
I never understood why so many education officials visited me as a teacher; I thought it was normal practice. Early in 2018 thoughts of my headmaster occupied my mind and I goggled Coventry and his name and discovered he was awarded a MBE for his contribution to education; deservedly so he also pioneered the first experiment with partial hearing children attending normal classes with children with no hearing disabilities.
I am hoping someone out there, even my former headmaster could answer my question as to when the multiplication grid first appeared on the back of exercise books.
I recently discovered from the internet that there was a grid designed by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago, using a base of 60; the Chinese also had a grid on bamboo strips around 305 BC using a base of 10.
Around 1820, John Leslie published a multiplication table up to 99 x99 the 2 to 60 times tables and recommended that children should memorize the tables up to 25 x 25
During the sixties, there were no individual access to the internet or computers; I was not a student of mathematics, so the history of mathematics was out of the question.
The multiplication grid and kinetic art was inspired by a group of primary school children from Spon Gate Primary school.
How did kinetic art get into the picture? One of my distracted pupils from the back of the class asked a question one day-“Why am I seeing a green dot on the blank wall when I know there is nothing there”.
We all went to the back of the class, stared, and sure enough, there was a green dot. That took us to the public library and the discovery of a book called –The eye and the brain” by Richard Gregory- and an explanation.
That led to a college project in kinetic art, and the design of a sculpture with glass tubes mounted over a background of black and white parallel lines.
The sculpture was mounted on the ceiling in the science block, and had to be taken down because of numerous complaints from staff and students, lowering their heads as they passed under the sculpture, even though it was a safe distance from the tallest student’s head, when walking upright.
Can anyone answer my question about the multiplication grid, when and where did it first appear on the backs of exercise books?
This Table was inspired by the first grid from way back in the early sixties; after suffering the stroke in 2013,I went back to the imaginabe classroom in an effort to test cognitive function and for exercising the brain.
The grid multiplies 2 to nine-digit numbers by 2 to 9. A little simple addition is necessary and a critical thinking mind.