Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"A Decade of Teaching `Reform Calculus' Has Been a Disaster, Critics Charge," by Robin Wilson. Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 February 1997, pages A12-A13.

Ten years ago a movement to reform the teaching of calculus began in the nation's colleges and universities. Today, many mathematics professors are questioning whether the reform was a good idea. Critics charge that reformed calculus courses and textbooks have been watered down and do not give students enough background in solving complicated mathematics problems. The proponents of reform believe the new approach helps students develop a deeper understanding of the concepts and uses of calculus, in part by shifting the burden of lengthy calculations to computers. This article discusses the controversy over calculus that has erupted in the mathematical community. The controversy appears to be dividing the profession into those who favor reform and those who are against it.