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Topic: [math-learn] Re: The Moore Method
Replies: 20   Last Post: Feb 5, 2012 3:12 PM

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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,251
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
[math-learn] Re: The Moore Method
Posted: Feb 4, 2012 3:14 PM
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A physicist wrote to me privately "What term might be appropriate for
the way R. L. Moore taught mathematics at the University of Texas?"

My response and references thereto might be of interest to some
subscribers to Math-Learn, Math-Teach, Phys-L, and PhysLnrR.

Moore's method <>, pioneered
by topologist R.L. Moore <> is
usually called "The Moore Method" - see e.g., the references below in
the REFERENCE list.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References
which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)
Links to Articles: <>
Links to SDI Labs: <>
Blog: <>
Academia: <>

"Some say that the only possible effect of the Moore method is to
produce research mathematicians, but I don't agree. The Moore method
is, I am convinced the right way to teach anything and everything. It
produces students who can understand and use what they have learned.
. . . . . There is an old Chinese proverb that I learned from Moore
himself: 'I hear, I forget; I see, I remember. I do, I understand.' "
Paul Halmos (1988, p. 258)

"He who knows only his own generation
Remains always a child."
Cicero (in "Orator")

REFERENCES [All URL's accessed on 04 Feb 2012; most shortened by
Benezet, L.P. (1935, 1936). "The Teaching of Arithmetic I, II, III:
The Story of an Experiment." Journal of the National Education
Association 24(8): 241-244 (1935); 24(9): 301-303 (1935); 25(1): 7-8
(1936). The articles (a) were reprinted in the Humanistic Mathematics
Newsletter 6: 2-14 (May 1991); (b) are on the web along with other
Benezetia at the Benezet Centre <>. See also
Mahajan & Hake (2000).

Halmos, P.R., E.E. Moise, & G. Piranian. 1975. "The Problem of
Learning to Teach," The American Mathematical Monthly 82(5): 466-476;
the first page is online at <>.

Halmos, P.R. 1988. "I Want to Be a Mathematician: An Automathography
in Three Parts." Mathematical Association of America (MAA),
publisher's information at <>.
information at <>.

Hake, R.R. 2007. "The Moore Method (was Richard Hake: On the Mazur
Article)" online on the OPEN! Phys-L archives at
<> and on the OPEN! Math-Teach archives at
<>, transmitted to various discussion lists
including PhysLrnR and Math-Teach. The CLOSED! :-( PhysLrnR archives
contain a valuable response from Jerry Epstein (2007). The OPEN! :-)
Math-Teach archives contain 7 interesting responses at
<> (scroll down), some of them claiming that the
Moore Method is well known to most mathematicians, contrary to my
claim that "most of the current generation of physicists and
mathematicians are oblivious of the 'Moore Method' [not to mention
the 'Benezet Method' (1935/36)]."

Epstein, J. 2007. "Re: The Moore Method (was Richard Hake: On the
Mazur Article," online on the CLOSED! PhysLrnR archives at
<>. Epstein wrote: "There is no doubt in my mind
that Moore's method is a forerunner of Inquiry-Discovery methods,
since he NEVER lectured in any way whatsoever, and taught students
mathematics by having them work on problems, both in class and out. I
too would agree that this is applicable far wider than research
mathematicians, and one of its best applications would be in
elementary school. There, I think it is the only kind of method that
makes any sense at all. Would that there were enough elementary
school teachers with the depth of understanding or ELEMENTARY
mathematics to make use of it."

Mahajan, S. & R.R. Hake. 2000. "Is it time for a physics counterpart
of the Benezet/Berman math experiment of the 1930's?" Physics
Education Research Conference 2000: Teacher Education, online at

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