Mathematical education and the role of mathematicians in mathematical education is a very important, loaded, and controversial subject. An old friend and fellow combinatorialist Ron Aharoni tried to teach mathematics at a junior high school. Here is Ron’s account of the experience as reported in Haaretz (English, Hebrew).
I admire Ron’s bold initiative and candid account of the experience.
Among Ron’s other endeavors: The recent startling proof (with Eli Berger) of the Menger theorem for infinite graphs, The study of topological methods in hypergraph matching theory, a book about mathematics and poetry (Hebrew), a forthcoming book about (or against) philosophy, and much activity in mathematics education including his book Arithmetic for Parents.
Comments and links about mathematical education in general and the role of mathematicians in mathematical education for children are most welcome.
Happy New Year, everybody!
From the Haaretz article:
“No one prepared me for what happened,” Aharoni explained. “My class quickly turned into a zoo – students would sing in class, get up freely, throw things at one another… Nothing I did helped, but on the other hand I wanted to use an ‘iron fist’ – even if I didn’t know how to. After two months I grew desperate and left.”
“I lost the feeling of omnipotence in education,” he said. “It was a dispiriting experience, it took the wind out of my sails. It is very frustrating trying to forge a connection, encouraging students to succeed and failing in that. So I returned to the ivory tower, which is far more comfortable and remunerative.”
“The truth is I left with my tail between my legs,” Aharoni said.