A Compendium of Mathematical Methods

We review the second of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year


Jo Morgan is a maths teacher, poster of high quality teaching resources, tweeter, and organiser of excellent events. The second book on the Chalkdust Magazine Book of the Year 2019 shortlist is A Compendium of Mathematical Methods (Amazon UK, Waterstones, Foyles), a book written by Jo containing various methods for completing mathematical tasks that you need to do at school.


This book presents multiple methods for performing common school-level mathematical tasks, such as subtraction, multiplication, simplifying surds, and polynomial division. These range from the most common methods that most readers will be familiar with to more unusual and unknown methods (often due to being older and not longer fashionable).


The book presents multiple examples of each method alongside very clear explanations of the what is being done. For the less familiar methods, explanations of how the method works are given, alongside some historical or geographic context of where any why these methods were/are used.


This book presented many methods that I was unfamiliar with, and I had lots of fun working out how these methods related to methods I was more familiar with and how they worked. I particularly enjoyed the polynomial division section, where methods equivalent to polynomial long division, but with steps in which it was much more clear what was actually being done to the polynomial, were shown.


I would strongly recommend this book to my maths teacher friends, and wish I’d had a copy of it when I used to be a maths teacher myself. I’m less likely to recommend it to my non-teacher friends, as the book has a clear teaching focus, but I know a few non-teachers who would find the discussions of different arithmetic methods interesting.

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