Saturday, August 29, 2009

Article: Teachers' opinions about some teaching material involving history of mathematics

Barry J. Fraser and Anthony J. Koop: Teachers' opinions about some teaching material involving history of mathematics, International Journal of Mathematical education in science and technology (1978) 9: 147-151.

In this article, the authors describe research in which they have given 39 mathematics teachers access to two different kinds of teaching materials involving history of mathematics: a play about Thales and an article related to the history of conics. The teachers were asked to read the materials and then answer a questionnaire. I find this particularly interesting, because this could be seen as research on the teachers' attitudes - without the teachers being influenced by enthusiastic teacher-researchers.

Interestingly, teachers were quite positive to the materials, particularly the play. (A theory might be that a play is more instantly usable than an article?) However, a significant number of the teachers would nonetheless not use it in their own lessons. There are many who thinks that the play would take too much time, for instance.

Also interestingly, almost all teachers agreed that "materials like this are not readily available elsewhere". Of course, that situation has changed a bit since 1978, but it is still an obstacle to teachers' use of history of mathematics.

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