
A statement on what is wrong with standard calculus
Posted:
Feb 20, 1996 12:55 PM


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 nontechnical 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. RJF
PS. I taught calculus sections when I was in the Math dept. at MIT.
Richard J. Fateman fateman@cs.berkeley.edu http://http.cs.berkeley.edu/~fateman/
 Jerry Uhl juhl@ncsa.uiuc.edu Professor of Mathematics 1409 West Green Street University of Illinois Urbana,Illinois 61801 Calculus&Mathematica Development Team http://wwwcm.math.uiuc.edu
"It is unworthy of excellent persons to lose hours like slaves in the labor of calculation." . . . Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

