måndag 10 augusti 2009

Role of Mathematics Education in Society??

Can we learn something about the role of mathematics education in our society, from how mathematics departments present their educational programs?  The following statements are typical: 
  • Princeton University: The mathematician's best work is ART, a high perfect art, as daring as the most secret dreams of imagination. Mathematical genius and artistic genius touch one another. (Gösta Mittag-Leffler).
  • MITMathematics provides a language and tools for understanding the physical world around us and the abstract world within us. 
  • University of ChicagoOne of the wonderful things about the University of Chicago is that EVERYONE has to take mathematics. Most students complete this requirement by taking one of our calculus sequences. 
  • Chalmers University of Technology: The mathematical sciences are fundamental and indispensable to a large part of modern science and engineering. Progress in other disciplines is often linked to an increased use of mathematics. Mathematics is however also a subject in itself, and fundamental research is a necessary condition for its many applications.
  • University of Washington: Mathematics is both a science and an art. Like any great art, mathematics has an intrinsic beauty and coherence that has attracted practitioners for centuries. Yet, unlike other arts, mathematics is a surprisingly effective tool for describing the natural world. Indeed, mathematics has come to serve as the foundation of modern science, through its language and results. Some mathematical results were initially developed in order to solve internally generated mathematical problems and only later found application in other disciplines; other mathematical results were inspired by the needs of these other disciplines. The two facets of mathematics - tool of science and subject of inquiry for its own sake - have come to be interwoven into a complex fabric. 
  • University of OxfordMathematics plays a pivotal role in the progress of society and its continued growth relies on the exchange and development of research ideas, the encouragement and teaching of the next generation of mathematical thinkers, and outreach to the public and schools. 
We  summarize:
  • Mathematics is a form of sublime art, which miraculously has shown to be very useful in science and engineering. EVERYBODY needs to learn mathematics in order to understand the physical world outside and abstract world inside ourselves.
We observe that the existence of the computer is not visible. 

The message is that mathematics primarily is a form of art which by developing according to its own inner principles, to which computing does not belong, best serves the needs of society. In this scenario there is little incentive to reform motivated by the computer now changing the society outside mathematics departments and their educational programs. 

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