Friday, December 21, 2012


People seemed to appreciate the 1960s/1970s fond memories of Harold Stinson - long-serving maths master of Brigg Grammar School - penned for our little Brigg People column that appears each week in the Scunthorpe Telegraph. Many thanks to those who took the trouble to comment - in person or by email. If you haven't seen the piece we penned, follow this link 
We can't remember if it was Harold, or another maths master, who once took us on to the school field to measure the height of the boarding house through the use of "Tan Trig" - opposite over adjacent, or was it COS or SIN? If you paced out the distance to the boarding house (fording The Moat) and knew the angle from ground level to the top of the roof, you could measure the height.
In today's gadget-ridden world, it's hard to believe that we used to consult a book of written tables to formulate the answer.
I remember "thinking out of the box" and using my book of Log tables to work out cricket batting and bowling averages, rather than relying on long division.
A recent issue of educational debate has been whether young pupils should be permitted to use calculators in tests/exams, which just goes to show how things have progressed over the past 30-40 years.
Headmaster H. B. (Brian) Williams (pictured above) taught our set of strugglers for maths one year (1970?). We are sure this very busy man had much better things to do, but he clearly relished a challenge. The Head must have found it very hard going!  We took the pic a couple of years ago at St John's Church when the wise one returned to Brigg from his home in the Louth area to attend a funeral service. 


gmsmith said...

Oh the days of logarithms and slide rules . Trouble was you never had your book of log tables to hand when wishing to calculate distances for a spot of DIY .

Do schools still have the brown shoes for indoors , black for outdoors uniform policy ?

Children today must have no idea where the cape and mortar board hat originated but Harold and a few others always wore them in the days of Brigg Grammar Scool.

Ken Harrison said...

Yep - Tan = Opp (Right angled tri)

So height (opp) = Tan (angle)x baseline + ht of eye (observation point)

But it's dead simps if the Tan angle is 45 degrees (Tan = 1) as the ht is = to the baseline length + ht of eye above ground.

Ken Harrison said...

With DIY, gmsmith, one is often using basic trig absent-mindedly....For example, the 3:4:5 ratio for making a rt-angled triangle.......and checking the diagonals (ensuring that they are equal) to make sure a framework (everything from a door-frame to a sport's pitch) is square.

Ken Harrison said...

PS @gmsmith - it's a GOWN not a's not Batman!!

Ken Harrison said...

Motarboard - academic cap - thought to related to the biretta (RC clergy headdress).....accepting that early studies at uni's orientated around the Classics - Greek, Latin and Divinity.....and students had to attend daily religious worship.
Later, faculties, such as Law, Maths and Medicine were introduced
(John Nelthorpe studied Law at Cambridge)
For info - actual exmainations were not introduced until the C19th. Before then, undergraduates just had to attend seminars/private tutorials.

To gain a place at Oxbridge, for example, applicants still needed Latin until the 1960's

gmsmith said...

It was cape and mortar board in the Dandy and Beano Ken , however, since their recent demise my weekly read has had to change so I will glean my info from that other kids comic The Financial Times .
How Scoop never mentioned Adeste Fidelus and Fortitudine I will nevr know.