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Topic: Lockhart's Lament
Replies: 13   Last Post: Mar 21, 2008 1:57 PM

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Dave L. Renfro

Posts: 4,484
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Lockhart's Lament
Posted: Mar 20, 2008 9:51 AM
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Louis Talman wrote:

> The link you saw was e-mailed today to members
> of the MAA. I had never seen the essay, myself.
> I read it today while proctoring an exam in my
> Math For Poets section.


The fact that I saw it the same day it appeared
(or at least, the same day it was mailed) is pure
coincidence. I visit the MAA web pages every
couple of months to see what's new, and yesterday
just happened to be one of those days. Despite
Wayne's comments [*] (and yes, I often have a
fair amount of sympathy for some of the viewpoints
Wayne represents), I think Lockhart is on target with
some of the excessive formalism that gets injected
into math below the precalculus level, which tends
to be mistaken by teachers as substance when it's just
form. On the other hand, I have mixed feelings about
Lockhart's attacks directed at geometry, where a good
case can be made for much of the formalism. [There is
a huge amount of mathematical teaching literature on
the teaching of geometry, by the way, much of which
seems to be ignored or overlooked in almost all of
the published teaching related articles I come across
(but this may simply be because I'm not seeing the
"real research literature" on the subject, as I'm
not as interested in math education as I am in math).
For example, in the late 1800s there was a lot of
controversy about the phasing out of Euclid's books
from European schools and in the late 1950s there was
Dieudonne's famous "Down with Euclid" charge.]

[*] http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=6144670

Dave L. Renfro



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