The teaching of mathematics: Introduction

In the last 2500 years the history of mathematical education has seen great changes, not only in what is being taught, but also in the manner of that teaching. There has been great variation in the value placed on Mathematics and its position in Education. The opinions of the public and academic societies towards a predominantly mathematical or scientific education have, for the most part, been very different to those held now.

There are numerous questions which come immediately to mind. What topics in Mathematics have been taught, and to what extent? What are the reasons for the changes that have taken place? Often these changes hinge on the opinions held by the public and how much respect they have for professions that depend heavily on mathematical knowledge. How has Mathematics been taught? Are the methods of today very different to those used centuries ago?

We have divided mathematical education into several different periods and looked at how it developed in several different countries. Some articles are of a general nature, some deal with more specific issues or events. Although the articles concentrate mainly on Britain, we have discussed other education systems which directly influenced British education.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson