While teaching high school in the Chicago area and working on my master's degree for mathematics teachers at Northwestern, I took the required history course. It was taught by a visiting professor from Israel, whose name escapes me at the moment. He began the course with, "I had to take history of mathematics once. The instructor began the course with the statement, 'One important part of the history of mathematics is group theory.' And the course was entirely a course in group theory. Another important part of the history of mathematics is topology." The word "history" was never used again and the only book required, and it was definitely used, was by Steenrod.
A bit mathematically arrogant perhaps, but it does bring up a serious concern. Too many of our education students take history of mathematics as a way to *avoid* mathematics and history of mathematics "education" tends to be even less mathematically oriented. Its a bit like a student blind from birth taking art history or deaf from birth in music history. It's intellectually possible, of course, might even be the best student in the class, but it seems still seems to be missing something.
At 06:45 PM 9/1/00 -0400, John K. Luedeman wrote: >When I taught such a course, I concentrated on the history/development of >the number systems. It seemed to interest them as well as be pertinant to >their teaching. > >I used a book out of Harvard University Press. I'll try to look up the >exact reference. > >John K. Luedeman >Director >Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education >O-101 Martin Hall >Clemson University >Clemson, SC 29634 >(864) 656-5222 >email@example.com > > >-----Original Message----- >From: firstname.lastname@example.org >[mailto://email@example.com]On Behalf Of Tena Roepke >Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 8:06 AM >To: firstname.lastname@example.org >Subject: History > > >One of my teaching assignments for this year will be to teach math >history to a group of primarily pre-service grades 4-9 mathematics >teachers. I'm excited about this but am asking for some input concerning >content for the course, textbook, resources, ways to make this material >relevant to these students given math background and future ambitions to >teach math in the middle grades. These students will have a background >in our standard el. ed. math courses, algebra/trig, introductory >statistics, finite math, and at least two quarters of calculus. > >Please send any ideas or positive suggestions via private e-mail to >email@example.com. Thanks in advance for your help. > >Tena Roepke >Ohio Northern University