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Topic: An open Letter to the NCTM regarding the history of mathematics
Replies: 9   Last Post: Dec 6, 2000 11:21 AM

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Steve Jystad

Posts: 28
Registered: 12/8/04
An open Letter to the NCTM regarding the history of mathematics
Posted: Nov 17, 1999 4:12 PM
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To the writers of the NCTM standards:

We are a group of educators, parents, and concerned citizens who have
been discussing the history of mathematics using your NCTM Standards
2000 Discussion Area. We believe that there is a serious deficiency
in the standards related to the history of mathematics. While we
believe mathematical content (the curriculum) should be the main
focus of the standards, we also believe that a short guide on history
should also be included.

We believe the NCTM organization has an obligation to mention within
the new version of the 'Standards':

1. the historical nature of mathematics,
2. how mathematical contributions, both historical and current,
enhance our society in new and interesting ways,
3. that most major theorems and other mathematical objects have been
named after people whose contributions to mathematics ought to be
4. the great, interesting, and in many cases still unsolved problems
of the past, and
5. the historical partnership between mathematics and science in the
development of both fields, and the importance of the interplay
between them.

In many cases, if these points are not mentioned, they will not be
incorporated into curriculum verbiage and hence will be considered
unimportant. When
even the students interested in mathematics do not know who
our mathematical predecessors are, then mathematics becomes nothing
more than a tool for engineers rather a distinguished discipline unto

We invite and encourage the writers of the NCTM standards to read the
thread "History of Mathematics" under "Question 1. Areas of
Mathematics" for the complete discussion concerning these statements.

The thread includes many ideas, opinions, and examples which should
help to clarify and strengthen the points made in this letter.

We ask that an officer of NCTM reply back to the forum with NCTM's
position regarding our suggestions. In this form, the writers can
acknowledge our letter and inform us how these issues will be
addressed in the revised Standards.

A list of research and literature to support NCTM's position would
be helpful in the reply. We would also like to have be a short
bibliography of CURRENT texts on the history of mathematics accessible
to both students and teachers added to the standards to make the
information more accessible to all.

Thank you.

Bruce Nelson
Steven Jystad
<other names to follow in this discussion thread>

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