Education, the development of numeracy & dissemination of Hindu-Arabic numerals in early modern Kent

Periton, C. (2017) Education, the development of numeracy & dissemination of Hindu-Arabic numerals in early modern Kent. D.Phil. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

The ways in which English men and women used numbers underwent a transformation during the last half of the sixteenth century and first half of the seventeenth century. This dissertation analyses the changes in how ordinary, non university-educated, people encountered, perceived and employed numbers in their
lives. It argues that as a result of this greater engagement with the ‘new’ Hindu- Arabic number system there was an increased sense of number awareness within the population as a whole and in Kent in particular.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century most English men and women expressed numerical concepts through a combination of performative and object-based systems, such as finger methods, tally sticks and counting tables. Those who used written systems relied primarily on number words and Roman numerals. From 1539 onwards with the publication of an ever-increasing number of vernacular arithmetic textbooks, together with rising literacy rates and increased educational opportunity, the number of people using Hindu-Arabic numerals increased. By the mid seventeenth century
both Roman numerals and Hindu- Arabic were used interchangeably and by the late seventeenth century Hindu-Arabic numerals became dominant.

During this same period people increasingly used numbers to interpret the world around them as trade, exploration and scientific advances required a more numerate population. Mathematical texts and teachers stressed the utility of numbers. Almanacs became ubiquitous and provide an insight into the rate at which the ‘new’
number system spread throughout society.

By examining a diverse array of sources and placing a case study of Kent within the wider national framework, this dissertation considers the ways in which increased educational opportunities led to the development of numeracy within the populace. It asserts that literacy is the key driver for numeracy and hence educational opportunity is inextricably linked to the development of numeracy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: D History General and Old World
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA0020 England > DA0670 Local history and description
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2018 10:16
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2018 14:38
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16963

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00