Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mathematician's Lament

The Mathematician's Lament started out in 2002 as a 25-page document that circulated somewhat erratically within the mathematics education community. The author, Paul Lockhart , who teaches high school math in Brooklyn, challenged everyone with its subtitle: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art.

The document has now been published as a book: The Mathematician's Lament, 510.71 Lo. He opens the book with a musician waking from a nightmare, where students are taught music beginning with music notation, moving to fixed rules, harmony, scales , then competency tests. Not until college do the students actually hear or play music. Lockhart says this is exactly the way math is taught to students, and the only people who know something is wrong are the students, who are right when they complain that math class is stupid and boring.

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