One additional comment: if Princeton would reinstitute and administer an admissions test that addressed the identified skills that Prof. Conway laments not finding in current students, it could (would) change to a large degree what goes in high schools today. It possibly would also develop more of a conegial bond between teacher-student to prepare for college admissions, rather than the adversarial relationship caused from using grades as a basis for entrance. It also would standardize the students entering college, for they would be chosen on the basis of what they know and are capable of knowing rather than just the latter and how well they were at achieving grades.
Michael Keyton St. Mark's School of Texas
On 22 Apr 1995, bo3b Overkamp wrote:
> Bill Marthinsen: > I am really interested in the rationale behind the existing division of > curriculum in high schools. Was it done with something in mind? I guess it > is a question for historical research, and I threw it out here because the > historical background about two-column proof came out of that discussion > earlier. Maybe someone has a tidbit about this also. > > bo3b: > Nearly ten years ago I attended a talk which suggested (among many other > things) that the US high school mathematics curriculum is the fault of > Harvard. Early in the nineteenth century, Harvard instituted an algebra > proficiency test, and directly US high schools taught algebra. Then Harvard > instituted a geometry proficiency test also, and geometry became the typical > post-algebra US high school mathematics course. Eventually people complained > about forgetting the algebra they studied before geometry, and so algebra II > was born. > I shall look for the notes I took on this and follow up when I find them. In > the meantime, has anyone any corroboration or refutation to offer? >