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Contemporary Issues in Mathematics Education

Estela A. Gavosto,Steven G. Krantz, and William McCallum, editors
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Publications 36
[Reviewed by
Libby Krussel
, on

Contemporary Issues in Mathematics Education is an excellent book for mathematicians and mathematics educators alike. It contains contributions from members of both communities. The book is the result of a conference held at MSRI, with support from both MSRI and the NSF, on December 5th and 6th, 1996. As stated in the preface, "The present book is the outcome of an effort to create a dialogue about mathematics education that went beyond calculus reform..." That goal has been admirably achieved.

The book consists of 4 parts, with gems in each one. Part I is entitled "Mathematics Education at the University" and contains articles by Hung-His Wu, Thomas W. Tucker, and Peter Hinman and B. Alan Taylor, each with a contribution on the teaching of mathematics majors at the University level. Wu examines the upper division mathematics courses usually required of mathematics majors, and suggests some changes. Hinman and Taylor look at the mathematics curriculum for majors at Research Universities, and discuss whether students are adequately prepared for the workforce. Tucker looks at the role of proof in calculus. Each of these articles provides ample food for thought. Part II is entitled "Case Studies in Mathematics Education", and has five contributions describing innovative teaching projects by various mathematicians. One addresses a redesign of the calculus sequence; another discusses ways of interacting with other departments.

Part III is entitled "The Debate over School Mathematics Education" and has five contributions addressing the issue of K-12 teaching and the preparation of K-12 teachers, from both sides of the "reform" debate. Judith Roitman sums up with an article "Beyond the Math Wars" that highlights the foolishness of taking sides, and suggests some ways to move beyond the polarized debate towards some productive business. Part IV consists of reports from the working groups formed at the conference and addresses such issues as technology in mathematics, mathematics majors and non-majors, outreach to schools, the first two years of university mathematics.

All of the essays and reports are well thought out, well written, and thought-provoking. This book provides a prototype for dialog between mathematicians and mathematics educators. As such, it is an invaluable model for mathematicians and mathematics educators to follow in coming together to share ideas. Each contributor is respectful of the others' points of view. It is clear that the contributing mathematics educators value the input from mathematicians, and at the same time the contributing mathematicians clearly understand the importance of mathematics education. I recommend it to any mathematician or mathematics educator who is genuinely interested in what the "other side" has to say.

Libby Krussel ( is an associate professor at the Department of Mathematical Sciences of the University of Montana.

Part I. Mathematics Education at the University: 1. On the education of mathematics majors H. Wu; 2. The mathematics major at research universities Peter G. Hinman and B. Alan Taylor; 3. On the role of proof in calculus courses Thomas W. Tucker; Part II. Case Studies in Mathematics Education: 4. If I could talk to the animals Dorothy Wallace; 5. The research mathematician as storyteller William Yslas Vlez and Joseph C. Watkins; 6. Redesigning the calculus sequence at a research university: issues, implementation, and objectives Harvey B. Keynes, Andrea Olson, Douglas Shaw, Frederick J. Wicklin; 7. Is the mathematics we do the mathematics we teach? Jerry Uhl and William Davis; 8. Japan: a different model of mathematics education Thomas W. Judson; Part III. The Debate over School Mathematics Education: 9. Reflections on teacher education Anneli Lax; 10. The third mathematics education revolution Richard Askey; 11. Instructional materials for K-8 mathematics classrooms, the California adoption, 1997 Bill Jacob; 12. Beyond the math wars Judith Roitman; Part IV. Reports from the Working Groups: 13. How the working groups worked; 14. The renewal of teaching in research departments Harvey Keynes, Al Taylor, Richard Falk, Leon Henkin, Lars-Ake Lindahl, Richard Montgomery, Dan Shapiro, Donald St. Mary, Donald Martin, Susan Montgomery; 15. The use of technology in the teaching of mathematics Peter Alfeld, Kirby Baker, Angela Cheer, Estela Gavosto, Ben Halperin, Tom Judson, Abel Klein, Gerardo Lafferriere, Charles Lamb, John Orr, Bob Welland; 16. Different teaching methods Greg Baker, David Epstein, Ted Gamelin, Sid Graham, Ole Hald, Delphine Hwang, Suzanne Lewis, Randy McCarthy, Brad Shelton, John Sims, Robert Underwood; 17. The first two years of university mathematics Joseph Ball, Christopher Grant, Peter Lax, Robert Megginson, Kenneth Millett, Wayne Raskind, Thomas Tucker, Joseph Watkins, Hung-Hsi Wu; 18. The mathematics major Jorgen Andersen, John Brothers, Ralph Cohen, Stephen Fisher, Andrew Gleason, James Lin, Lea Murphy, Richard Montgomery, Y. S. Poon, Ken Ross, Anthony Tromba; 19. The education of non-mathematics majors Adeniran Adeboye, Stephen Greenfield, Jean Larson, Ashley Reiter, Dorothy Wallace; 20. Outreach to other departments Chris Anderson, Barbara Bath, Marjorie Enneking, Terry Herdman, Paul M. Weichsel; 21. Outreach to high schools Gunnar Carlsson, Phil Curtis, Dan Fendel, Neal Koblitz, Anneli Lax, Judith Roitman, Tom Sallee, Martin Scharlemann, Alina Stancu, Abigail Thompson, David Wright, William Velez; 22. Research mathematicians and research in mathematics education Hyman Bass, Kenneth Bogart, Michael Fried, Cathy Kessell, Alfred Manaster, Steve Monk, Blake Peterson; 23. Afterword William G. McCallum; Part V. Appendices: A. Sample final exam H. Wu; B. When you find a lemon, make lemonade! Anneli Lax; C. The California math wars Bill Jacob.