Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Essay You Must Read: "A Mathematician's Lament"

Keith Devlin (pictured above), a well-known author on mathematics for the general public with a monthly column, "Devlin's Angle" in the Mathematics Association of America's journal. The column is available on-line. Here is more about Mr. Devlin:

"Mathematician Keith Devlin (email: is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University and The Math Guy on NPR's Weekend Edition. Devlin's most recent book, Solving Crimes with Mathematics: THE NUMBERS BEHIND NUMB3RS, is the companion book to the hit television crime series NUMB3RS, and is co-written with Professor Gary Lorden of Caltech, the lead mathematics adviser on the series. It was published in September by Plume."

Devlin's current column, entitled "Lockhart's Lament," is dedicated to a remarkable essay written in 2002 by a mathematics teacher from NYC by the name of Paul Lockhart. The Lockhart piece, available as a 25 page pdf, is one of the most insightful arguments about what is wrong with how we generally teach mathematics in this country and what we could be doing instead. It should be required reading for anyone connected in any way with the teaching and learning of mathematics or who wants to have a truly informed perspective on what makes sense for teachers and kids to be doing in mathematics classrooms.

The Devlin column may be found here.

At the bottom of the column, there is a link to download the Lockhart pdf.

I recommend reading the entire Lockhart essay. It's that good and that important. The only mystery is how this could have been out since 2002 and only now be coming to the attention of many people, myself included.

No comments:

Post a Comment