George Boole the Educator
Whilst the mathematical genius of George Boole is well known, this symposium will focus on George Boole the Educator and discuss the enormous contribution he has made to education and the legacy that he has left as an educator. Boole’s chosen career was that of a school master and he opened his own school in Lincoln in 1834 when he was only 19 years of age. It is clear from his writings that his views of education are closer to those of the 20th and 21st centuries than those held in the 19th century. For example when describing his approach to teaching mathematics he wrote about the importance of moving from the practical to the abstract and advocated the use of models “in the hands of the student” when teaching mensuration. These ideas are now reflected in the Project Maths curriculum that is currently being taught in our schools.
He advocated the teaching of mathematics and science using a context-based approach which is now the driving force behind the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) programme.
Boole believed in the importance of a balanced education and wrote about the need to include languages. literature and moral education in addition to science and mathematics as part of the school curriculum. In addition, he was a social innovator and was the driving force behind an Adult Education Centre (Lincoln Mechanics Institute) which had several hundred members who could consult books and attend lectures and workshops.
Boole was a gifted teacher and in 1835, at the age of 19, he was invited to give his first public lecture on the difficult topic of “Genius and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton”. This lecture was widely published and helped to establish Boole as one of the leading educators of his time.
When George Boole was appointed as the first Professor of Mathematics in UCC in 1849 he was unique among his colleagues due to his classroom experience and his experience as a headmaster. The symposium will discuss how this experience helped him to achieve fame as an educator not only in Cork but also at international level.
7 p.m Introduction - Prof Kathy Hall.
7.10 - 7.30 George Boole the teacher of Science and Mathematics - Dr Declan Kennedy
This talk will bring us on a tour of Lincoln in which we will follow the footsteps of George Boole as he grew up and will visit the schools in which he taught.
7.30 - 7.50 George Boole (1815-1864): Thoughts on Education - Dr Vanessa Rutherford
This talk will explore personal correspondence and unpublished writings of George Boole to reveal his thoughts on education, and discuss the application of his ideas to the contemporary classroom.
7.50 - 8.10 Break for tea / coffee.
8.10 - 8.30 George Boole the UCC Professor - Dr Seán Petit
This talk will cover the years that George Boole spent in UCC and will discuss his contribution to Education in UCC and at international level.
8.30 - 9.00 Open Forum chaired by Prof Kathy Hall.