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Humor or Signs of Change?

As mathematics teachers, we tend to focus our attention on immediate classroom matters and next week's lessons. That is, we rarely have the luxury of time enough to ask: Is positive change occurring in mathematics education?

Then, as a small moment of serendipity, I run across small examples of true change. For example, consider that a conference paper delivered in 1958 was entitled: Advanced Slide Rule Techniques (Cubic Equations, Addition, and Subtraction). The paper was given by Dr. B. Schwartz at the Ohio section of the MAA.

In light of this paper, we can measure positive change in terms of curriculum, goals, and the use of computer/ calculator technologies. Admittedly, certain nice understandings have been lost in this transition...such as the number sense gained from working with scientific notation on a slide rule. (I know some of you are asking: What's a slide rule?).

But on the whole, the new technologies empower students as mathematical problem solvers in ways that I could not have dreamt of, when I was a struggling novice teacher in the early 1970s. For example, consider the current ability to graph almost any equation, zoom in to find intersections and slopes, or manipulate large matrices....all with the touch of button. Yes, positive changes have occurred.

Enjoy your summer...take some time to reflect on the positive changes you have witnessed as a teacher...and work on both reinforcing and capitalizing on these changes next year.