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The Colour-Factor Set

Colour-Factor Set
c 1965 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Colour-Factor was an approach to mathematics teaching developed by Seton Pollock in the early 1960s. This patented method was a structural approach to mathematics that encouraged children to manipulate material things rather than tackle abstract concepts.
The teaching equipment is a box of rainbow-coloured wooden blocks of lengths varying from 1cm to 12cm. These can be paired and grouped in different patterns, and rearranged to discover the properties of numbers and the relations between them.
This wasn't a completely new idea; Pollock credited Tillich's one-inch blocks and Friedrich Froebel's play material as inspirations, and similar apparatus known as 'Cuisenaire rods' were widely available.
This Colour-Factor set was used by the donor with her first daughter, born in 1964. Inspired by the 'child-rearing bible' of Dr Spock as well as theorists Piaget and Winnicott, she encouraged 'education by doing' from the age of two. As well as using the formal Colour-Factor textbooks, the child appropriated the bright blocks into her play, combining them with other toys to make trains and build cities.
The warm colours of the blocks and the tactile element of painted wood make Colour-Factor a fascinating and attractive way to grasp hold of mathematics.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 15 parts.

  • Box Lid for Colour-Factor Set
  • Box Base for Colour-Factor Set
  • Box Insert for Colour-Factor Set
  • White Blocks
  • Pink Blocks
  • Light Blue Blocks
  • Scarlet Blocks
  • Yellow Blocks
  • Violet Blocks
  • Grey Blocks
  • Royal Blue Blocks
  • Crimson Blocks
  • Amber Blocks
  • Dark Grey Blocks
  • Mauve Blocks
Brief Description
Boxed mathematics teaching set of different colour blocks, designed by Seton Pollock, made in England about 1965
Production typeMass produced
Credit line
Given by Mark and Julie Miller
Object history
This Colour-Factor Set was bought in the mid 1960s by the donor, for use in the home. Rather than the prevalent Cuisenaire rods, Julie Miller was recommended the Colour-Factor set by a friend who was a primary school teacher. Colour-Factor was apparently better finished and there were twelve denominations of blocks, considered an advantage in pre-decimal days.

The blocks were used by the Miller children and then grandchildren, who also used the books (B.321, 322 and 323-2012) for guidance. Julie Miller recalls that "I do and I understand" was the theoretical impetus behind her childrearing in the 1960s.
Summary
Colour-Factor was an approach to mathematics teaching developed by Seton Pollock in the early 1960s. This patented method was a structural approach to mathematics that encouraged children to manipulate material things rather than tackle abstract concepts.

The teaching equipment is a box of rainbow-coloured wooden blocks of lengths varying from 1cm to 12cm. These can be paired and grouped in different patterns, and rearranged to discover the properties of numbers and the relations between them.

This wasn't a completely new idea; Pollock credited Tillich's one-inch blocks and Friedrich Froebel's play material as inspirations, and similar apparatus known as 'Cuisenaire rods' were widely available.

This Colour-Factor set was used by the donor with her first daughter, born in 1964. Inspired by the 'child-rearing bible' of Dr Spock as well as theorists Piaget and Winnicott, she encouraged 'education by doing' from the age of two. As well as using the formal Colour-Factor textbooks, the child appropriated the bright blocks into her play, combining them with other toys to make trains and build cities.

The warm colours of the blocks and the tactile element of painted wood make Colour-Factor a fascinating and attractive way to grasp hold of mathematics.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
B.320:1 to 15-2012

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record createdOctober 19, 2012
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