Lynne Vowles interview

Mathematician and author out to make maths fun for all

Interview, Education
Interview, Education

Mathematician Lynne Vowles is the author of One Magnificent Mosque, and she’s aiming to make maths fun for everyone.

Why did you decide to write One Magnificent Mosque?
I’m a maths teacher, and was actually in the process of writing another book called Maths Play. While we were in the process of editing the other book, I realised that it would be good to create something for young children too. I wanted it to be bilingual, so that I would be accessible to all children here, not just for expats or local kids. I decided to do the paintings in the book myself too, I really enjoyed that.

How did you choose the theme?
I decided that because I was a maths teacher that I’d write a counting book. I’d done some research, and while there are some lovely bilingual books that had been done by Emirati authors, there is very little that can be used by everyone, especially in maths. In all schools here, it’s compulsory for children to be taught to speak and read Arabic, and particularly in English-speaking schools, there’s a requirement that pupils learn about Arabic culture, too. But in terms of teachers’ resources, we’re limited as to what we have access to, particularly for very young children. So One Magnificent Mosque was born out of a number of ideas I’d been having!

What do you mean when you talk about ‘maths play’?
It’s about giving parents the confidence about the kind of maths they can teach their children through play at a very young age. I based it completely on what I did with my own two children when they were very little. As a teacher, I also ran a lot of extra curricular maths activities, much of it very creative.

When you take any child’s reading book, generally parents will just read it straight to them, and that’s it. But there’s so much more that you can get out of it from a maths perspective – you can get a fantastic amount of fun activities and maths learning out of a normal reading book. For that reason, One Magnificent Mosque isn’t just a counting book – it’s about looking what else they can do, whether it’s having fun with the numbers, or relating the Arabic numbers to their English equivalents.

How can we inspire our kids to enjoy maths rather than dread it?
Children love to count when they’re young – to reach that milestone of being able to count to 10 or 20, it’s a fantastic thing for them. But while they’ve learned to count by recitation, they don’t always know what the numbers actually mean. To get children to understand numbers, you have to take the number two, and ask, ‘what is two, what do you get when you have two of something?’ The actual language of maths (such as ‘more than’, ‘less than’) can be very complicated when you’re young, but if you introduce that language from an early age, it will really help kids get a grasp of the way things work.
Ages 2+, March 9, 10am-11am, Al Khaimah.

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