Whiskeytown talk info by Andrew Phelps

Date: Mon, 1 Sep 1997 12:51:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: Andrew Phelps <phelps@emf.net>
To: Jeff Haag <jh1@axe.humboldt.edu>
Subject: Whiskeytown talk info

State of Jefferson Math Congress

Whiskeytown, October 4, 1997

Personal Reminiscences of the New Math and Implications for Today


The New Math was a response to Sputnik, where the "level" of mathematics instruction nationally was to be upgraded. The first stage was to change the textbooks. Using the School Mathemtics Study Group, this was accomplished sucessfully by the late 60s. The second stage was to have been retraining the nation's math teachers My father as Head of the Institutes Section of the N.S.F. was responsible for managing this. Overtaken by political events, this phase was a catastrophe. The succeeding generation of math students was trained by teachers who weren't prepared for the textbooks they were using. Lessons from this history are applied to today's version of the problem of upgrading mathematics education. The role of the computer revolution among other factors is considered.

Personal Biography

Andrew Phelps did his mathematics graduate study at U.C. Berkeley in the 60s (M.A. 1967, admitted to candidacy for Ph.D. 1969). Collaterally impacted by the New Math catastrophe which devastated his family, he studied at Berkeley and received a 2nd B.A. in psychology in 1977. After further training in cognitive science and artificial intelligence, he turned to mathematical control theory. He received his Ph.D. in nonlinear observer theory from U.C. Berkeley under the direction of A.J. Krener in 1987. He has been teaching mathematics since 1983. His current assignment is at the College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University.