A worry from Keith Devlin

The Death Of Mathematics


Are we about to see advances in mathematics come to an end? Until last year, I would have said no. Now I am not so sure.
We have,

it seems, become so accustomed to working on a keyboard, and generating nicely laid out pages, we are rapidly losing, if indeed we have not already lost, the habit—and love—of scribbling with paper and pencil. Our presentation technologies encourage form over substance. But if (free-form) scribbling goes away, then I think mathematics goes with it. You simply cannot do original mathematics at a keyboard. The cognitive load is too great.

Lara Alcock: Memories of undergraduate mathematics

Lara Alcock in the OUPBlog:

Two contrasting experiences stick in mind from my first year at university.

First, I spent a lot of time in lectures that I did not understand. I don’t mean lectures in which I got the general gist but didn’t quite follow the technical details. I mean lectures in which I understood not one thing from the beginning to the end. I still went to all the lectures and wrote everything down – I was a dutiful sort of student – but this was hardly the ideal learning experience.

Second, at the end of the year, I was awarded first class marks. […]

Looking back, I think that the interesting thing about these two experiences is the relationship between the two. […]

I don’t think that there was a problem with me. […] Nor do I think that there was a problem with the lecturers. […]

I now think that the problems were more subtle, and related to two issues in particular.

Read the whole post.

Lara Alcock is a Senior Lecturer in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University. She has taught both mathematics and mathematics education to undergraduates and postgraduates in the UK and the US. She conducts research on the ways in which undergraduates and mathematicians learn and think about mathematics, and she was recently awarded the Selden Prize for Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. She is the author of How to Study for a Mathematics Degree (2012, UK) and How to Study as a Mathematics Major (2013, US).