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Topic: [HM] History of good curricula
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Edward Sandifer

Posts: 2
Registered: 4/26/05
[HM] History of good curricula
Posted: Sep 29, 2005 8:52 AM
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The following provocative remarks are extracted from a recent posting by
Roger Howe, forwarded by Ralph Raimi.

"Here are some statements that people have made to me.

"1. The good Asian curricula (except Japanese) are derived from the
(Soviet) Russian curriculum.

[stuff deleted]
"4. Euler wrote an arithmetic text for Catherine the Great, for use in a
military academy in St. Petersburg.

"Let's assume that these are more or less true, but that statement 3 might

need some clarification. So my question is: can we connect the dots here?
Are the world's good math (or maybe just arithmetic) curricula all (more
or less) descended from Euler?"

First, Euler wrote the Rechenkunst, his arithmetic book, in the 1730's,
during his first St. Petersburg era, so statement 4 is technically
incorrect. His regent was Empress Anna. Second, the Rechenkunst was in
the old Germanic tradition, and doesn't really resemble modern arithmetic.
I think that the modern arithmetic comes later, say from Cocker and
Hodder.

Despite this technical objection, the conclusion that "the world's good
math curricula all descended from Euler" is not that outrageous. His
Algebra book is outstanding, and his "precalculus" book, the Introductio
in analysin infinitorum" is one of the world's great mathematics books,
standing beside the Elements in content and standing alone in pedagogy.

Ed Sandifer
Danbury CT, USA




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