Don't they teach Pythagoras any more?

(98 Posts)
Dancergirl Fri 10-May-13 22:54:14

I was having a chat with dd1 tonight who's in Year 7. She had never heard of Pythagoras, it wasn't taught in primary school and so far, not in Year 7.

I remember learning it in Year 6. I know teaching maths has changed a lot over the years but surely this is fundamental?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 10-May-13 22:58:09

IIRC that's GCSE stuff. wink

ShatnersBassoon Fri 10-May-13 22:59:15

I was in senior school when I learnt about Pythagoras. Y7 or 8, not sure which. 20+ years ago.

Devora Fri 10-May-13 23:00:04

I definitely learned this in secondary school. Couldn't tell you what it's all about now, though.

DS1 is doing that now. Year 9.

MrsBungle Fri 10-May-13 23:02:23

I definitely did not learn about Pythagoras until about 3rd year of high school.

5madthings Fri 10-May-13 23:06:21

I learnt it in high school, my ds1 is in yr 9 and he has done it in the last year.

Dancergirl Fri 10-May-13 23:08:22

I'm v surprised?

Is Maths being dumbed down? It's not a difficult concept for bright 10/11 year olds....

I didn't learn Pythagoras until 2nd year at high school. DS1 learnt it in Y7 and I was surprised he was learning it so early. He's been doing trigonometry this year too (in Y8).

BackforGood Fri 10-May-13 23:14:03

I'd say either your memory is playing tricks, or you were very unusual. I was at grammar school in the 70s and we didn't do it until we were there - and, I think probably 2nd or 3rd year, not (what would now be) Yr7

stargirl1701 Fri 10-May-13 23:14:51

I learned it at secondary too. 1980s.

Victoria3012 Fri 10-May-13 23:14:54

My son is in year 7 and he is learning Pythagoras theory, so yes they do teach it.

chickensaladagain Fri 10-May-13 23:17:08

I did it in 2nd year grammar school

Dd has covered it in yr 6 but there were only 4 of them that did it

Victoria3012 Fri 10-May-13 23:18:03

Theorem grin bloody phone x

Schooldidi Fri 10-May-13 23:18:27

I teach it in year 8 to our top sets, the lower sets don't meet it til GCSE.

Dd1 is in top set year 8 at a different school and they haven't met it yet. They have done some pretty impressive algebra for year 8 though.

I'm fairly certain that I learnt it in year 9, as we then did basic trig straight after, so spent weeks learning about right angled triangles.

Dancergirl Fri 10-May-13 23:18:45

Nope backforgood def year 6. I even remember drawing the triangle and having the squared paper along each side. Bog standard state primary.

JollyOrangeGiant Fri 10-May-13 23:19:39

I'm pretty sure we were taught it in my first year of secondary school. In a selective independent school though, so possibly that is not the norm.

ouryve Fri 10-May-13 23:21:18

I didn't do pythagoras until 4th year middle school - when we did the CSE syllabus because we were sofacking clever. So that was year 8, ahead of time for the 1980s.

Dancergirl Fri 10-May-13 23:22:12

I wonder what else has been taken off the primary curriculum...?

I'm not sure it ever was a standard part of the primary curriculum.

Not that there was a standardised primary curriculum back in the day. But I don't think it was routinely taught to 10 year olds at any point.

MrsBungle Fri 10-May-13 23:25:32

Was it on the primary curriculum though ? Most folk on this thread say they didn't do it until secondary school.

StuffezLaYoni Fri 10-May-13 23:26:36

Did it with my year 6 as a fun extension of their work on triangles a while back. Think they have different ideas as to what constitutes fun...! However, they got it and were quite impressed with it so I'm glad we did it. I found a very good visual website aimed at kids - it showed the edges of the triangle extended into squares, which IMO helped them grasp it a lot quicker.

stealthsquiggle Fri 10-May-13 23:28:20

No idea. Shall ask Y6 maths geek DS in the morning.

Yeah the common curriculum is a fairly recent idea. Before that, individual schools, teachers and classes could study what seemed appropriate to them. So yes you may well have done it at primary school, but today's children won't necessarily learn the same things in the same order.

Dancergirl Fri 10-May-13 23:34:42

Yes that's what we did stuffez but in a much lower tech form! We cut out squares of paper and stuck them to each side of the triangle.

Funny the things you remember!

The higher ability groups in my year 4 class will cover Pythagoras later this term, but that's because it will be a suitable extension for them. My groups are named after mathematicians so they have had a few random extra bits about them. The Fibonacci spirals session was great fun!

MirandaWest Sat 11-May-13 00:00:40

I did Pythagoras at some point in secondary school. Year 8 or possibly year 9 about 25 years ago.

I am now itching to teach DS (year 4) about it (well not actually now as he is asleep but YKWIM <blush at being over enthusiastic parent>)

StuffezLaYoni Sat 11-May-13 05:32:30
readytoordersir I used this site for illustration. Very useful.

bigkidsdidit Sat 11-May-13 05:56:16

I went to an incredibly academic private school and we didn't do it until Lower 4, which is now year 8

trinity0097 Sat 11-May-13 06:06:51

Year 8 work for the above average, yr 9 for the rest.

mrz Sat 11-May-13 06:51:06

It was never on the primary curriculum to be taken off Dancergirl it's level 7 of the NC

ProfYaffle Sat 11-May-13 07:10:41

High School here too, in the 80's so not a recent change.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 08:14:50

I did Pythagoras in last year of primary, and indices and all sorts of things I didn't re-encounter until third year of secondary.

Ds did it early on this year in year 7 (top set) but when I looked up the level descriptors, it seems all the topics they're doing are all the level 7 ones. He's done most of the algebra - not level 8 bits - etc too. Am a bit concerned they've missed out some level 6 bits but I'm sure the teachers know what they're doing...

CouthyMow Sat 11-May-13 08:23:56

That's lvl 7 work. My 11yo DS1 covered it earlier this year, as extension work. So it is normally taught when they hit NC lvl 7.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 08:24:38

I loved my last year of primary school...just four of us taught maths every day in the Head's office.

It did make secondary maths very boring for a few years (and yes, we were set, just expectations were lower then).

CouthyMow Sat 11-May-13 08:25:39

DD is in lowest set Y10 and has only just met Pythagoras.

DS1 has done something called Euler's theorem too, that went right over my head!! (He's a Maths whizz, but can't draw for toffee)

ProveYourLoveToMe Sat 11-May-13 08:25:56

Year 9 or 10 back in the mid 90s.

Yakare Sat 11-May-13 08:26:16

Grammar school in the 70s. We did it in the 3rd year (with Mr Palmer).

Back in the days when teachers and schools had real autonomy.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 08:27:00

I must say I was surprised when I looked it up that Pythagoras was level 7... I think it's an easy concept to grasp (and apply) and I think ds already knew all about and understand it before he did it at school (he has loads of maths books - theory ones not workbook ones!)

CouthyMow Sat 11-May-13 08:27:19

Hadn't read Mrz's post when I posted that it was lvl 7! grin

CouthyMow Sat 11-May-13 08:29:33

DS1 did Fibonacci in Y4 too. Lvl 7 Maths is about my limits, so God knows how I'm going to help him with his homework next year when he goes to Secondary...blush

I need to improve my Maths for that reason alone!!

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 08:30:21

Yeah, I learned that in primary, I think. I'm nearly 40.

Never ever used it in my whole life, outside a maths class or exam. In common with about 80% of all things learned at school. grin

In fact, the only time I ever or have ever used it after I left school is to say the words the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares of the other two sides

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 11-May-13 08:31:54

Yep, did it in secondary school.

spanieleyes Sat 11-May-13 08:33:09

Actually the primary curriculum is increasingly "taking on" parts of what was the secondary curriculum for a couple of reasons.
1) both the Renewed Framework and the "New" curriculum brought objectives down from Year 7 into Year 6 ( and below!) The new framework for example will include angles on vertical lines, co-ordinates in four quadrants, construction of pie graphs, volume of cubes/cuboids, area of parallelograms, multiplication and division of fractions as objectives for year 6. Currently these are taught generally as extension activities for the more able, they will now be covered by all.
2) the need to achieve higher and higher levels with more and more of the year group, we are now expected ( in my county) to have at least 35% level 5's and 10% level 6's. So higher level objectives are routinely being covered.
Far from being "dumbed down" the primary curriculum is becoming overloaded!

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 08:34:07

After reading all the posts, I am doubting myself now. grin I am fairly sure we had to work out triangles at junior school. We did it with squares. (I know that sounds really weird. But I am convinced we had to colour squares in to find out about triangles) hmm

spanieleyes Sat 11-May-13 08:35:27

In fact, the only time I ever or have ever used it after I left school is to say the words the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares of the other two sides
Ah, but can you prove it and do you understand why!!
You can train a monkey to do it, but you need to teach a child how and why!

StuffezLaYoni Sat 11-May-13 08:40:19

Regarding autonomy and the primary curriculum: I'm lucky enough to teach year six in a single form entry junior school. Our results are excellent and our Head takes the attitude of "keep the results good, keep the children and parents happy, keep your books and work looking great and you can pretty much do as you please."

I have been able to extend my children so much this year - particularly in Maths. It wouldn't occur to me not to extend them if they were on a roll, simply because it's something usually covered in later years. This is in stark contrast to my previous school where I had my planning ripped to shreds by senior staff who believed Maths Makes Sense was the way forward. They are now in Special Measures.

CecilyP Sat 11-May-13 08:42:30

I learned it in 2nd year in a top set in grammar school.

I have no idea what age you are, but before the national curriculum there was no 'primary curriculum' for it to be taken off. If you did it at primary, it was probably up to an individual teacher providing an extension activity for pupils who were good at maths.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 08:42:56

I have never needed it. I can remember nothing about it other than you work out the square of the two sides, add them together and that gives you the other side. I can't remember why it works (not that I care) and the last time I ever used it was in school and the next time I use it will probably be when my kids bring it home as homework grin

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 08:45:32

I used it in real life just the other day - to work out whether in the corner of our soon-to-be new living room there was enough width for bookcases to go at 90¤ to one another or not...

CecilyP Sat 11-May-13 08:50:03

No, I used it recently to work out whether I could turn my large bed round in my small bedroom without taking out my large chest of drawers - I could!

mrz Sat 11-May-13 09:11:18

Did you really use Pythagoras to check if bookcases would fit in a corner?

Dancergirl Sat 11-May-13 09:23:32

stuffez that sounds wonderful, shame there aren't more schools like yours.

May I ask where abouts in the country you are?

RustyBear Sat 11-May-13 09:26:51

I do remember the top set doing Pythagoras at the school I work at, but that was years ago, before the National Curriculum for Maths was introduced, and I think it was an extension activity for the ablest children. I only remember it because I took in the Pythagoras patchwork cushion my mum made to show them. I found the cushion cover in my Dad's loft after he died last autumn - it's in a very bad state, as you can see in the photo, and my sister is trying to restore it, but it must be twenty years old now.

spanieleyes Sat 11-May-13 09:27:45

This year my top set are obsessed with algebra ( last year it was geometry!) They've been solving quadratic equations this week. Heaven knows where we will end up next year!

Stuffez Thank you for the link - love those animations! I was planning on giving them some 3,4,5 triangles, some squared paper and just about enough instructions to start them off on working it out for themselves.

Rusty That cushion is gorgeous! What a talented mum and a very special memento.

I'm now imagining a huge quilt of a fraction wall...

Boski Sat 11-May-13 09:54:40

DS2 did Pythagoras last term and he's in Y6.

StuffezLaYoni Sat 11-May-13 10:54:14

Dancergirl - I'm in the North East. Our school is not perfect (whose is?) but I have never enjoyed teaching so much as I have this year.

Ready - you're welcome. The animations are really helpful aren't they? They loved working out the hypotenuse then measuring it,and were always amazed that it actually works!

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 12:39:53

mrz - I genuinely did. I bet dh I could figure it out on paper before he could move them around in real life. I won. Although it was slightly academic because we're not in the new house yet and don't know where the light switches are...

mrz Sat 11-May-13 12:56:24

Sorry B&C I'm not doubting that you did, I'm just not sure why you needed Pythagoras confused

lljkk Sat 11-May-13 12:57:15

About age 13-14 for me, too. 1981-ish.
OP, Was there really a standard national curriculum when you were in yr6?

My yr4 child is a whiz at working out angles, if that's any consolation.

SquirrelNuts Sat 11-May-13 13:06:42

I did Pythagoras in year 8, maybe she hasn't got to it yet? That was in 2001/2 and I was in the top class grin

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 13:24:08

Ok I thought my original post might have been confusing. I needed to know whether I could a slim bookcase in between two other cases at right angles to one another. We know whe width of the corner unit but not how much it takes up when it's at the 45¤ to go across the corner. So it becomes the hypotenuse, you use Pythagoras to work out the new 'width' it takes up...i think I've explained that better now.

Apologies to all on thread for most boring post ever...

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 13:26:53

Grr, is this clearer? To work out how much wall space a certain width item takes up when it's at 45¤ instead of flat to the wall I used Pythagoras...

TwllBach Sat 11-May-13 13:37:33

I started secondary school in 1999 and definitely didn't do Pythagorus before then, if that helps!

quip Sat 11-May-13 18:20:54

Hmmm. I taught ds1 this for fun a month or so ago. He got it, and used a formula to generate pythagorean triples, so he could test it worked. To be fair I didn't teach him the proof of the theorem, just presented it as an interesting property of right-angled triangles. Is this really L7? Ds1 is in y2!!

BooksandaCuppa Sat 11-May-13 18:29:36

Well, I think it's easier than l7 but otoh not sure your average 7 year old can understand squares and square roots so he's a little maths star, quip!

Iamnotminterested Sat 11-May-13 18:33:11

DD said she did it recently, she's in the top group and her and a few others do extension work on this kind of thing, "For fun" in her words; they've done Napier's bones for multiplying, Fibonacci sequences, that kind of thing. She is year 4.

pointythings Sat 11-May-13 18:35:28

DD1 did it earlier this year - she's in YR7 but top set and doing L7 work so that fits.

DD2 is in Yr5 and did Fibonacci in Yr4, but no Pythagoras yet. I've taught her basic quadratic equations at home because she asked, but school hasn't touched on it yet (she's also top set).

I did Pythagoras in the first year of secondary in Holland, that was in 1982.

mrz Sat 11-May-13 18:45:47

ImTooHecsyForYourParty in primary children have to identify/recognise right angled triangles they don't have to apply Pythagoras

almapudden Sat 11-May-13 18:49:26

We did it when I was in Y7 at my very bog standard middle school, in 1997.

DrinkFeckArseGirls Sat 11-May-13 19:00:05

shockconfused We did Pythagoras aged 9. Am foreign though.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 20:07:53

Nope, I'm fairly sure we had to add the squares to find the answer. As far as I recall, adding the two sides to find the third is all the damned thing is. I remember having to count squares hmm It was 30 years ago though, and as with most of what I learned at school, it's never been used or needed since, so it is always possible that I've got it confused.

mrz Sat 11-May-13 20:15:08

So pre National Curriculum

Bunbaker Sat 11-May-13 20:17:15

I started secondary school in 1970 and we didn't do Pythagoras until the second year (year 8 as it is now). DD is in year 8 and covered Pythagoras before Christmas

You must have been an exceptionally high achiever to study it at primary school.

burberryqueen Sat 11-May-13 20:20:55

is pythagoras theorum where the square on the hypotoneuse is equal to the sum of the other two somethings....? If so I think we did it in year 6 or 7, we were supposed to be brainy, hehe if only they had known...

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 20:42:09

pre national curriculum? oh god, am I that old?

Yeah, I'm either dead clever (I was in the top set for everything and been a chronic underachiever ever since grin ) or I've been out of school so long that it's all squished in my mind into one jumbled mess.

I've just asked my husband, he is also convinced he did it in primary.

He is kenyan and he is nearly 50. He says it is also possible that he is now so old that he can't remember either. grin

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 20:43:20

In fact, I am now so ridiculously invested in this that I'm going to call my dad and ask him! grin (he's a maths teacher)

mrz Sat 11-May-13 20:45:12

The National Curriculum was introduced in 1988

RustyBear Sat 11-May-13 20:50:07

If it was 1988, then the lesson at our school can't have been pre-NC. It was probably pre the Numeracy Hour, though - when was that brought in? Was that when they brought in all that stuff in a plastic packet - they used to call it 'the lunchbox' at school...

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sat 11-May-13 20:56:57



my parents are laughing their arses off. Apparently it was the first year of senior school

I nearly didn't come back! blush I said but mum, I've been arguing with people on the internet that I'm right! And X (my husband) did it in primary too. To which she reminded me that X was a) privately educated and b) privately educated in a different country. After she'd stopped laughing, my mum wished me bon appetit (for the humble pie) and said that it's probably because I'm so old. My memory's going.

I only called them to get proof i was right. blush

[sad bastard emoticon]

mrz Sat 11-May-13 21:00:09

Technically there never was a Numeracy hour but the Numeracy Strategy was introduced in the late 1990s (98ish?)

RustyBear Sat 11-May-13 21:02:35

That'll be what I'm thinking of. (By the way, in case you were wondering, I'm not a teacher, or I would hopefully know all this, I'm just a computer tech...)

mrz Sat 11-May-13 21:02:53

I was taught Pythagoras in my first year at grammar school pre NC

ClayDavis Sat 11-May-13 21:46:41

Numeracy strategy was '99 I think. I did Pythagoras in year 7 or 8 of a selective independent. Definitely didn't do it at primary. Although thinking about it, it wasn't in this country so that probably doesn't count.

pointythings Sat 11-May-13 22:09:34

BTW Pythagoras does have a practical use if you're an archaeologist in the field and you don't have a theodolite handy - it lets you lay out a dig grid with reasonable accuracy using the 3-4-5 method - all you need is 3 metal tent pegs and a 30m tape measure. Been there, done that. It was at uni, though.

mrz Sun 12-May-13 06:56:24

I think it was '99 Clay I was teaching in a Numeracy Strategy pilot school so we started in '98

mrz Sun 12-May-13 07:02:16

Thinking about it pointythings I remember using Pythagoras in primary to measure the height of trees on the school field ... no one told us we were using Pythagoras at the time .

Mominatrix Sun 12-May-13 07:21:19

It would be a very advanced 7 year old who would be able to understand, let alone derive the Pythagorean Theorem, but surely at 8-9 children could do this. DS, who is in this age bracket has reviewed area and perimeter (introduced last year), and also has covered squares and square roots. When they had an assignment about right angled triangles, I asked him if they had been introduced to Pythagorus as it seemed to fit the topic and he is Ancient Greek mad, and he said no. I explained it, had him do a practical derivation of it, and he understood it. I think that it would probably make a fun homework assignment to derive the relationship between the sides and the hypotenuse, but then I am truly a geek, and there really is no point in knowing this until they start studying geometry.

I was introduced to the theorem in middle school - i think 10 or 11 years old, but had to really use and derive it when studying geometry at 14 and physics at 15.

mrz Sun 12-May-13 07:27:37

Year 7 pupils are 11-12 years old Mominatrix

Mominatrix Sun 12-May-13 08:00:42

Thank you for the clarification - I am still bemused about year/ages in school in the UK. So my experience is very much in line with the other posters.

CouthyMow Sun 12-May-13 10:18:59

I would have just started the Juniors when the National Curriculum was inteoduced.

I remember that I did Pythagoras in Secondary. If I think which Secondary I should be able to place which year group...

Oh, no, hang on, I must have been in Primary, Y6 probably, because it was in my 11+. Back when we all sat it, so everyone must have been taught it!

So what I did at Secondary must have been just a refresher thing.

OnFoot Sun 12-May-13 15:49:25

I definitely didn't do it in primary and I'm a child of the 70s.

GibberTheMonkey Sun 12-May-13 16:03:53

I didn't do it in primary
Didn't really do it in secondary either but that was more because of useless teachers

My ds1 is year 5 (private) and incredibly good at maths and he hasn't done it yet. He has some understanding having read about it.
When he does get taught it I'll get him to teach me.

Jux Sun 12-May-13 16:09:34

DD is in year 9 and they are on to SOHCAHTOA, so did Pythagoras earlier.

We did Pythagoras in prep school, about year 4.

Ferguson Sun 12-May-13 17:34:34

Hi -
I certainly didn't do it until grammar school, and that was early 1950s!

When we did do it we had to know how to PROVE the theorem; today I believe kids LEARN ABOUT it, but don't have to do the proof (though I am happy to be corrected by a secondary maths teacher.)

noblegiraffe Sun 12-May-13 17:40:50

No, kids don't need to be able to prove it (I'm secondary maths) although I might go through an algebraic proof with a top set, and usually do a bit of cutting and sticking with Perigal's dissection with a lower set (although that's a demonstration rather than a proof).

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