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Topic: A statement on what is wrong with standard calculus
Replies: 15   Last Post: Sep 21, 2004 11:26 AM

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Jerry Uhl

Posts: 1,267
Registered: 12/3/04
A statement on what is wrong with standard calculus
Posted: Feb 20, 1996 12:55 PM
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Someone forwarded this to me from another discussion group. It was written
by Richard Fateman of Berkeley and has a decidely Steve Krantzian flavor.

I think it is useful because much of what Fateman says constitute calculus
courses (hand manipulation and filter) are aspects that I think ruin them.

Notice at the end, Fateman points out good things that are in the mind of
the instructor but are lost on students. I believe that if reform is
successful, these good things will also be in the minds of the students.

-Jerry Uhl

Here is Fatemn's message.

In my view the purpose of most college calculus courses is to

(a) assure that the students have learned manipulation of algebraic
quantities by hand.

(b) assure that students understand the notion of a function and its graph.

There is a third purpose, too

(c) to convince people who can't hack it in calculus to take up
a non-technical major.

I believe that Mathematica helps in part (b). So does a TI graphing
calculator that costs (both hardware and software) $19.95+tax.

I think this is independent of the calculus "reform" movement
of the last 15 years or so.

There are other thoughts in the mind of the instructor, e.g.
the beauty of the concepts, the applications to science, etc.
These are pretty much lost on the students.

PS. I taught calculus sections when I was in the Math dept. at MIT.

Richard J. Fateman

Jerry Uhl
Professor of Mathematics 1409 West Green Street
University of Illinois Urbana,Illinois 61801
Calculus&Mathematica Development Team

"It is unworthy of excellent persons to lose hours like slaves in the labor
of calculation."
. . . Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

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