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The deconstructing mob

“The natural temptation in the nervous atmosphere of America is to listen to the voice of the mob and to proceed at once to lynch Euclid and every one who stands for that for which the ‘Elements’ has stood these two thousand years.  This is what some who wish to be considered as educators tend to do; in the language of the mob, to ‘smash things’; to call reactionary that which does not conform to their ephemeral views.  It is so easy to be an iconoclast, to think that cui bono is a conclusive argument, to say so glibly that Raphael was not a great painter,—to do anything but construct.  A few years ago every one must take up with the heuristic method developed in Germany half a century back and containing much that was commendable.  A little later one who did not believe that the Culture Epoch Theory was vital in education was looked upon with pity by a considerable number of serious educators.  A little later the man who did not think that the principle of Concentration in education was a regula aurea was thought to be hopeless.  A little later it may have been that Correlation was the saving factor, to be looked upon in geometry teaching as a guiding beacon, even as the fusion of all mathematics is the temporary view of a few enthusiasts to-day.” – David Eugene Smith, The Teaching of Geometry (1911)

Published inLit & CritMathematics

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