It is clearly impossible to arrange a scale of hardness in studies such as is used in mineralogical tests. But if the formation of such scale were attempted, mathematics would probably head most of the lists. Once label a subject very hard, and let that label be flaunted before the young pupil’s sight, and they are handicapped from the start. They magnify every difficulty, are discouraged too easily, accept failures as all but inevitable. This disadvantage works in many ways. Children are pitied for having to work hard exemples, they are made to tremble at the very thought of algebra or geometry. If they express any pleasure in the subject they are called grinds or sharks, or are told “Just wait till you get to radicals.” Students who have just finished a course in algebra and geometry delight in terrifying those in the class below them, exaggerating its difficulties, discouraging them from reasonable efforts to succeed by instilling a beleif in the futility of such attempts, magnifying the slaughter wrought by examinations, or perhaps declaring that the only way they themselves got through was by committing all the proofs by memory, a tale which can rarely be true, but which is often swallowed with avidity. If it were possible to eliminate from the young minds, that cling so tenasciously to some forms of tradition, this conventional view of mathematics, I beleive that we should find pleasure in learning and in teaching mathematics wonderfully increased, and failures in the subjet correspondingly diminished. Is there any way in which we can acheive this ? It is worth much thought and effort.

Helen A. Merrill, Why Students Fail in MathematicsMathematics Teacher 11

Ce texte est tiré du Mathematics Teacher de décembre… 1918. Hummmm !

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