March 1, 1993
What do you think of the state of math and science education in the US right now?
I remember a couple of early experiences interacting with the “computers and education” crowd at conferences. The experiences varied—from me being very pleasantly surprised at how quickly people seemed to be catching on to the potential for this kind of thing, to complete horror at the fact that people like the ones I was seeing were actually teaching young Americans about science or mathematics.
I continue to be amazed that, in the math educational process, there is such an emphasis on, as I see it, highly esoteric issues of pure mathematics. The notion of proof is an interesting one, but very few people in adult life, so to speak, “do proofs”. That kind of thinking is, I think, most prevalent among mathematicians and lawyers. I think the emphasis on that kind of thing in mathematics education is a consequence of some kind of trickle-down effect from the influence of mathematics research in this century.