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Topic: History
Replies: 14   Last Post: Sep 2, 2000 3:10 PM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: History
Posted: Sep 1, 2000 9:49 PM
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on 9/1/00 8:16 PM, Wayne Bishop at wbishop@calstatela.edu wrote:

> 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.
>
> Wayne.


Just imagine the reverse situation, folks: you sign up for a math course,
say U of Michigan's MATH 451, Advanced Calculus. And the instructor says,
"One important part of Advanced Calculus is its history. Another important
part of Advanced Calculus is the philosophy of mathematics that underlies
the thinking of those who developed it. Two other important parts of
Advanced Calculus are the history and philosophy of mathematics education
which impact how I am teaching this class." And little or no advanced
calculus is taught beyond the bare bones needed to cover its history,
philosophy, and pedagogy. The only books used, and they are definitely used,
are those which cover those three areas.

How long before, were he a member of such a class, Dr. Bishop started
threatening to sue the instructor for educational malpractice? Or the
department for gross misrepresentation?

There are rumors that some math majors sign up for History of the English
Language to avoid having to take a more demanding literature course. (Hell,
*I* signed up for it in graduate school to avoid the other option: Old
English ;^) ).

Need I drag this analogy out further?

------
Michael Paul Goldenberg Washtenaw Technical Middle College
5900 Bridge Rd #715 LA 230L
Ypsilanti, MI 48197 Ann Arbor, MI 48106

home 734 482-0497 work 734 973-3410
cell 734 604-8559

"Truth is a mobile army of metaphors." Friedrich Nietzsche






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