L. D. Adams

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Louise Doris Adams (died 1966) was a British mathematics educator and school inspector (HMI) who wrote the 1953 book A Background to Primary School Mathematics (Oxford University Press)[1][2] and became president of the Mathematical Association for 1959.[3]


Adams earned a degree from Bedford College, London, with second-class honours in mathematics in 1911.[4][5] Her work as an inspector was centred on the West Country and particularly Bristol.[4]

She joined the Mathematical Association in approximately 1915,[4] and became a member of the Teaching Sub-Committee of the Mathematical Association in 1946.[6] When she became president of the Mathematical Association in 1959, she became only the second woman to hold that office since the association's founding in 1871, after Mary Cartwright in 1951,[3][4] and the second HMI, after W. C. Fletcher in 1939.[3][7]

She died in 1966.[4]


Adams had "considerable experience as a teacher and inspector" and wrote her book, A Background to Primary School Mathematics (1953), on the basis of that experience.[2] It was aimed at teachers of primary-school mathematics, and used case studies from approximately 80 students to advocate linking the teaching of mathematics to the individual experiences of the students.[1] Her book "inspired many teachers" and prefigured a greater emphasis on play with mathematical tools over rote learning.[8]

As a member of the Teaching Sub-Committee of the Mathematical Association, Adams helped shift the association's focus "from teaching to learning"[8] and from what should be taught to how it should be taught.[4] Both her book and her presidential address to the Mathematical Association were a major impetus to the reform of mathematical education in the UK.[8]


  1. ^ a b Cook, H. M. (September 1954), "Review: A Background of Primary School Mathematics", The Mathematical Gazette, 38 (325): 238, doi:10.2307/3609069
  2. ^ a b "The teaching of arithmetic – Improvements on current methods", Educational Research, 1 (1): 74–79, January 1958, doi:10.1080/0013188580010108
  3. ^ a b c Presidents of the Association, Mathematical Association, retrieved 2018-10-06
  4. ^ a b c d e f Williams, E. M.; Sowden, K. (October 1966), "Obituary: Louise Doris Adams", The Mathematical Gazette, 50 (373): 255–258, JSTOR 3614670
  5. ^ University of London, the Historical Record: (1836-1912) Being a Supplement to the Calendar, Completed to September 1912, University of London Press, 1912, p. 523
  6. ^ Melrose, Jean (1986), The mathematical association diploma in mathematical education as an instrument for in-service education for primary school teachers, Durham theses, Durham University, pp. 20–21
  7. ^ Rollett, A. P. (October 1968), "Presidential address: Class consciousness", The Mathematical Gazette, 52 (381): 219, doi:10.2307/3614161
  8. ^ a b c Breakell, John (September 2001), The teaching of mathematics in schools in England and Wales during the early years of the Schools Council 1964 to 1975 (PDF), University of London, pp. 18, 176–177, 249