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Re: Lockhart's Lament
Posted:
Mar 20, 2008 9:51 AM


Louis Talman wrote:
> The link you saw was emailed 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



