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Topic: Re: where's the math? so? (was Re: 5th Grade Activity)
Replies: 1   Last Post: Apr 19, 1995 11:17 PM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: where's the math? so? (was Re: 5th Grade Activity)
Posted: Apr 19, 1995 11:17 PM
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On Wed, 19 Apr 1995, Ted Alper wrote:

> While I certainly agree that the standard curriculum should not be
> considered unalterable -- and that technological changes and needs
> should influence what and how one teaches -- I wonder what is meant by
> "all the new math that has evolved since world war II" in this
> context. Information theory? The method of forcing? The new methods
> for doing linear optimization problems? Please explain how any of
> these things effects 10th graders, let alone 5th or second graders, or
> how it might influence what they should be doing in class.
> (The NCTM standards book has that standard bit of boilerplate around
> pages 7 or 8 of the introduction -- more than half of all mathematics
> having been invented since WWII -- but what does that MEAN? Are we
> counting pages of journal articles? Number of theorems? Are we
> allowing for redundancy? Most of this math builds on the same
> foundations that classical mathematics does. The vast amount is
> specialized knowledge -- generally requiring fairly advanced training
> to be intelligible and even then only digested by a few who feel a
> need to explore it. A classical secondary mathematics education (as a
> start) is hardly a disadvantage in approaching the modern mathematical
> literature.)

I think that at least one point here is that mathematics is an open
enterprise, constantly evolving, never to be completed. While that may be
a commonplace in the mathematics community, it's hardly well known to the
general public. Few of us are taught that mathematics is a growing body
of knowledge that represents human ingenuity and inventiveness. Until I
met graduate students in mathematics during my college years, I didn't know
there WAS any mathematics past calculus.

-michael paul goldenberg/University of Michigan

> For that matter, discrete math -- regardless of what specific topics
> one puts under the label -- doesn't REPLACE the traditional curriculum.
> Discrete math builds upon algebra and geometry fairly extensively.
> Ted Alper

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