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Posted:
Jan 9, 1997 8:58 AM


Hi: I have a general comment on Alan Schoenfeld's story posted a few days ago. A simplistic view of any human activity is that of a continuum ranging between total chaos and rigid bureaucracy. I have taught in math departments of 4 universities in this country; in one of them there are no syllabi for basic calculus courses as faculty felt that it would cramp their style (Q: Can you name the state this U is in ?), in another each syllabus follows the following pattern: on day X cover section Y of book C with homework consisting of oddnumbered problems in the range of 150 (remember: C is always a constant, and X, Y are variables). I hope this illustrates what I mean by total chaos and rigid bureaucracy. It is a matter of personal preference where each of us feels comfortable. Personally, I believe creativity is stifled by moving too far toward the bureaucratic end. It is refreshing to hear from Alan Schoenfeld about his struggles with bureaucrats. The whole discussion started by Bill Thurston's question on what do we intend to accomplish in undergraduate teaching. Clearly, such discussion is needed if not desperately needed. The ironic twist is that those of us who plan to continue our academic careers as administrators will inevitably codify the discussion in the form of the syllabus you see above. Jurek Dydak Math Dept, University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN 379961300 phone: 4239745325 fax: 4239746576 email addresses: jdydak@utk.edu dydak@math.utk.edu



