How Mathematics Has Changed Over Time
- Sep 13, 2016
- Sudipto Das
Mathematics has gone through a radical change over the last 200 years. But how did it metamorphosed over that time? We’ll discuss that matter in more details in this article.
Before the 1950s, most math courses in primary, junior high and high schools stressed the development of elementary computational skills in students. During the 1950s and the 1960s, there was an introduction of a newer form of mathematics.
Math education in the 1800s
Math books introduced in the early 1800s mainly contained material used for vocational training in arithmetic in the 18th century. This information was mainly useful for shopkeepers, merchants, artisans, craftsmen etc.
The content of those books were mainly based on different concepts of numbers:
- Whole numbers,
- Common fractions,
- Decimal fractions,
- Composite numbers etc.
The main purpose of those books was to teach skills through which one can write algorithms. Those books also taught a variety of math applications to the readers. The books were usually meant for teachers and not students. Students, therefore used to learn the most during an apprenticeship.
There were also many things that went missing in early 18th-century math education. The deductive aspect of the subject was missing. Mental mathematics (apart from memorizing multiplication tables) was neglected.
What was the novel introduction?
The mathematics introduced in the late 1950s and the 1960s stressed mainly on comprehending concepts rather than memorizing multiplication tables, math rules and formulae. Performing repetitious drill in the subject was discouraged as much as possible.
The changes in the subject
The major changes that occurred in the subject were mainly of 3 types. These are:
- Unification of arithmetic system,
- Algebraization of arithmetic (introduction of modern algebra),
- Automating arithmetic algorithms.
The 1970s and the 1980s
In the 1970s and the 1980s, teachers continued to apply the new rule that was introduced during the 50s and the 60s along with a little improvisation. They re-introduced the computational and critical problem-solving skills along with the new rule, thereby bringing in a novel change yet again.
At college level, teachers have moved away from traditional teaching methods. Colleges and universities, these days provide more specialized courses in mathematics in specific fields like engineering, economics and physics.
With the advancement of technology, a fair chunk of math lessons have gone over to the internet. Online tutoring platforms have made it possible for math sessions to occur anywhere, anytime as per convenience. Several other advanced features like the white board feature, data sharing feature etc. have made the sessions more effective and more convenient.
So you see that the subject has indeed gone through a complete metamorphosis over time. With that statement, we’ll sign off for now. Hope you had a good read.
Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for wizert.com and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993
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