High School Mathematics

Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik

High School Mathematics

Many efforts at curriculum reform concentrated on high school teaching. Old forms of apparatus became more widely available. University professors worked with teachers to try out new approaches to teaching that emphasized the theoretical beauty of mathematics rather than its practical applications.

Demonstration Slide Rule by Keuffel & Esser, 1967

The slide rule is an instrument used to assist in multiplication, division, and other mathematical operations. Widely used in American engineering schools from about 1900, it slowly diffused into high schools and lower grades. Slide rule makers also sold oversized examples for instruction. The Winchester-Thurston School, a girl's high school in Pittsburgh, purchased this slide rule for one of its classrooms.

UICSM Programmed Textbook, 1963

At the University of Illinois, discussion of the need for new ways of teaching mathematics to high school students began in 1951. By 1963, the University of Illinois Committee on School Mathematics had developed a set of four experimental programmed textbooks. These included text in the form of questions and answers, and as tests for each section.
 

Blackboard Compasses, about 1950

In the 1950s and 1960s, community colleges expanded rapidly. Oversized compasses, used to draw circles and arcs of circles on the blackboard, had long been available in the United States. This instrument was used at Montgomery College in Maryland from about 1950 onward.
 

Experimental Units of Minnesota School Mathematics Center, 1963

Select high school students also were introduced to advanced topics in mathematics in special summer programs. Mathematician Paul C. Rosenbloom of the University of Minnesota prepared this experimental course for one of these seminars.

Students studied topics such as information theory, computer logic, set theory, calculus, and vector analysis, which had not been part of the standard high school curriculum. Students also had the opportunity to write and run programs for a CDC 160 computer. At the time, computers were extremely large and expensive, and the opportunity to use one was an unusual event. Rosenbloom and one of his colleagues later wrote a textbook that was used in many colleges.

Game of WFF'N PROOF, 1969

Professors also designed games to teach mathematical skills to people of all ages. Layman E. Allen of the Yale University Law School began thinking about improving logical thinking in 1956. From 1960, with funds from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, he spearheaded a project for the "Accelerated Learning of Logic."

Allen and his colleagues hoped to develop games and other materials that would offer a ways to convey logical principles. In 1961 and 1962 they released different versions of WFF'N PROOF, a series of 21 games designed for learners from young children to adults. Allen's brother Robert tried out the games with students in California and Florida. His success led Allen and others to revise WFF'N PROOF further.