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Topic: SAD NEWS: Prof. Dr. Arnold Kirsch ('Germany)
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
SAD NEWS: Prof. Dr. Arnold Kirsch ('Germany)
Posted: Dec 2, 2013 2:11 PM
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Information provided by Werner Blum.
Prof. Dr. Arnold Kirsch: January 13, 1922 - October 14, 2013

Arnold Kirsch, the famous German mathematics
educator, died on October 14, 2013. He has
substantially influenced the German speaking
discussion on mathematics teaching and learning
as well as the practice of mathematics teaching
at school. A look into secondary level textbooks
reveals traces of Kirsch's work in many places,
from the introduction of fractions and whole
numbers over the treatment of elementary
functions up to the orchestration of differential
and integral calculus.

Arnold Kirsch studied mathematics and physics in
Göttingen and in Bern where he got his Ph.D.
under the supervision of H. Hadwiger. Until 1963
he was a high school teacher in Soltau and in
Göttingen and then for three more years a
lecturer at the University of Gießen. From 1966
to 1971 Kirsch held a professorship for
mathematics education at the Pedagogical
University of Göttingen, and then until his
retirement in 1987 a professorship for
mathematics education at the newly founded
University of Kassel.

Among Kirsch's most important contributions are
subtle subject matter analyses (in German:
"didaktische Sachanalysen") of nearly all
mathematical topic areas. Together with his
colleague Heinz Griesel he established the
so-called "Kassel school of mathematics
education" His main goal was always to make
mathematics accessible for learners so that they
are able to genuinely understand mathematics
("Mathematik wirklich verstehen", the title of
his most important book, second edition 1994). In
his work he also addressed general didactical
aspects, such as relations of mathematics to the
real world (applications and modelling), proofs
and proving, or aspects of simplification, the
topic of his plenary lecture at ICME-3, Karlsruhe
1976. The main message of this lecture
characterizes his work: "simplification without
falsification", i.e. topics ought to be
simplified in order to become more easily
accessible for learners, but this simplification
must not create an epistemological or
subject-related barrier for further concept

Arnold Kirsch was also an enthusiastic teacher,
both at school and at university. His main goal
was to enable students to deeply understand
mathematics. His lectures were of a brilliant
clarity, and his strong engagement for his
mission, making mathematics accessible, always
impressed his audience. He contributed to the
secondary school mathematics textbook series
"Mathematik heute" for more than 30 years. Most
of his didactical inventions can be found in
his textbook chapters. Many of his ideas were
later adapted by other textbooks. Prominent
examples are the treatment of proportional and
antiproportional functions (including the so
called rule-of three, "Dreisatz") in grade 7, of
real numbers in grade 9, of exponential functions
in grade 10 and of integral calculus in grade 12.

Arnold Kirsch was an editor of several scientific
journals and books, and he served as a member of
advisory boards of several institutions and
journals such as the Institute for the Didactics
of Mathematics in Bielefeld (IDM), the Journal
für Mathematik-Didaktik (JMD) or the Zentralblatt
für Didaktik der Mathematik (now published by
Springer as ZDM -The International Journal on
Mathematics Education). In 2011 he became an
honorary member of the Gesellschaft für Didaktik
der Mathematik (GDM), the scientific community of
mathematics education in the German speaking area.

All his friends and colleagues lively remember
the talks and discussions with him, his
enthusiasm for mathematics, his brilliant subject
matter analyses, his sensibility for learning and
learners as well as his genuine modesty. We will
commemorate Arnold Kirsch with gratefulness.

Werner Blum, Kassel

Attachment converted: Macintosh HD:Kirsch for
Jerry Becker.docx ( / ) (004CF70E)
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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