Math Education: March

March was a busy month, but it turned out very productive! I now have a solid draft of all three chapters of my thesis plus a conclusion. The only thing left to do is finish an introduction and make a few edits to get the whole thing within the page limit.

Nearing the end of my thesis, I have a much better idea of exactly what I’ve been writing about the whole time. Of course I’ve always had a vague idea that my topic was early-20th century math education reform and the body of writing that grew around it, but there is still a lot of room for interpretation there. My final paper deals with an attack on math education during the 1910s and 1920s by other education reformers who saw math as useless in most people’s daily lives. Math teachers did not want their subject to be cut from school requirements, so they had to come up with reasons why math was important. One of the main reasons they came up with was math’s humanistic value: mathematics has played an important role in world history and has connections to art, music and philosophy. Historians have written about these two subjects (the attack on math education and the beginning of the study of the history of mathematics) separately, but I have tried to show that they are connected in a cause-and-effect relationship.