The MAA's Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM) is currently gathering information for a process that will result in a Curriculum Guide. They have issued a document entitled "Mathematics and the Mathematical Sciences in 2010: What Should Students Know?" This document, which can be downloaded (http://www.maa.org/news/cupm_text.html), is a working draft, and the committee is soliciting comments on it. You can submit your contributions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first part of the document is a set of general issues and possible recommendations identified by participants in a September 2000 workshop. The second part is a series of supporting articles by participants in the workshop. For example, recent MAA President Tom Banchoff speculates on how technology will change textbooks and teaching strategies in the next 10 years. Roger Howe makes his case for reforming the teaching of geometry. "Geometry today," Howe notes, "is clearly the invalid of the college curriculum." Part of his prescription is a new two-semester course that he is developing with William Browder.
It is natural that we, as mathematicians, should constantly strive to refine and improve our teaching and our curriculum. However, it helps to occasionally look back and think about the real progress that we have made. When I was a first-time teaching assistant about to teach a calculus course in 1972, the sum total of my orientation was a five-minute session with an office worker, who gave me a textbook and syllabus, and told me when and where the class would meet. Fortunately, most mathematics departments now treat the training and care of new teaching assistants as an important matter.
One thing has not changed and will not change. Good mathematics is deeply satisfying and lots of fun. We all cherish those moments when we break through and solve that stubborn research problem or when we finally find the right explanation that gives a struggling student the insight she needs. As Joe Rosenblatt (U of Illinois) likes to say, "Mathematics is God's way of showing us that he loves us and wants to make us happy."
Sid Graham, Chair
Back to the Spring Newsletter
This page is maintained by Earl D. Fife