Paul Halmos’ View of Mathematics

      Comments Off on Paul Halmos’ View of Mathematics

Before we immerse ourselves in learning to teach math, let’s look closer at the subject of mathematics.  What kind of math do you want to teach?  This may seem like an odd question since “math” is a common term.  “Math” is a required subject in schools.  Numbers and money are considered “math.” You might think that everyone agrees what math is, yet this is not the case.

I will post a few opinions of math.  The first is by my old professor, Paul Halmos.  He was a world-famous mathematician and mathematics educator.  In his “Mathematics as a Creative Art” article in the American Scientist, he said

“Mathematics is abstract thought, mathematics is pure logic, mathematics is creative art. All these statements are wrong, but they are all a little right, and they are all nearer the mark than “mathematics is numbers” or “mathematics is geometric shapes”. For the professional pure mathematician, mathematics is the logical dovetailing of a carefully selected sparse set of assumptions with their surprising conclusions via a conceptually elegant proof. Simplicity, intricacy, and above all, logical analysis are the hallmark of mathematics.”