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[HM] History of good curricula
Posted:
Sep 29, 2005 8:52 AM


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



