ERIC Number: ED245721
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Liberal Arts Mathematics: Cornerstone or Dinosaur?
Smith, Karl J.
In light of substantial declines in enrollments in liberal arts mathematics courses in two-year colleges, this paper looks at some of the reasons for these declines and suggests ways of revitalizing the traditional "great ideas" mathematics course. First, a brief outline is presented of the history of liberal arts mathematics, focusing on the questioning of the relevance of particular courses during the 1960's; the dramatic drop in liberal arts mathematics enrollments from 72,000 in 1975-76 to 19,000 in 1980-81; and the increased student interest in skills that would lead to jobs. Next, the future of mathematics in liberal arts education is discussed, and a curricular reorganization is proposed, including basic skills courses, courses for career-oriented students, and survey courses covering arithmetic processes, geometry, algebra, statistics, logic, and computer technology applied to algorithmic processes, concepts, generalizations, and problem solving. Next, traditional instructional approaches are contrasted with alternative methods emphasizing hands-on experience in the laboratory and the community. Finally, the potential of liberal arts mathematics is discussed in terms of meeting the competency needs of the 1980's by combining the main features of the "great ideas" mathematics course and basic skills training. A sample course outline is appended. (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Sloan Foundation Conference on New Directions in Two-Year College Mathematics (Atherton, CA, July 11-14, 1984).