By Morris Kline
This publication indicts liberal arts undergraduate schooling. In view of quite oft-cited failings and shortcomings of schooling in any respect degrees, why specialize in undergraduate schooling? The liberal arts faculties are the guts of our whole academic method. Why is undergraduate schooling negative? The best offender is the overemphasis on study. This booklet discusses this challenge intensive, with a spotlight on arithmetic.
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Additional info for Why the professor can't teach: Mathematics and the dilemma of university education
But the quality of the intellects engaged in research runs the gamut from poor to excellent. Francis Bacon in his Novum organum (1620) sought to mechanize research and was rightly and severely criticized. His own contemporary Galileo demonstrated through his work the extent to which originality and serendipity must enter. Bacon may indeed have oversimplified the task of research, but his expectation that anyone can do it, even “men of little wit,” is not far from what happens today in mathematical research.
Applied mathematician is required to climb a rugged, steep mountain, whereas the pure mathematician may attempt such a climb, but if he finds the going tough he can abandon it and settle for a walk up some nearby gentle hill. Traditionally mathematics had been concerned with problems of science. But these, as we have noted, are far more difficult to solve. Only relatively few men today pursue them. The abandonment of tradition and of the rich source of problems has been justified by a new doctrine: Mathematics is independent of science, and mathematicians are free to investigate any problems that appeal to them.
It is the teacher’s function to convince him of the value of that course for his life as an educated person. There are many professors who, though they wish to be good teachers and approach the work seriously, apparently believe that the wish is the act. The wish may be father to the deed, but the conception, pregnancy, and labor are missing. These require perception, time, and energy devoted specifically to the requirements of good teaching. Much of this art must be learned from the students. To the extent that the students show 46 comprehension, interest, even excitement, satisfaction, drive to learn more, and response to deliberately posed queries intended to stimulate thinking - to that extent the teaching is successful.