Date of Award
Professor Ralph Ford
For many years, mathematics classes have had a traditional aura about them. The textbook has been the major source of material. The typical lesson consists of review assignments discussed in class, presentation of the new material usually by the teacher, some applications of these new concepts, and a homework assignment for the next day. This routine is repeated from day to day, term to term. The students are acting merely as machines. The teachers ask questions, and the students answer from memory. This is one of the main reasons why there is a lack of understanding in mathematics classes.
Some memorization in learning is required, but the contention is that it can and should be minimized. Mathematics is a topic that cannot be learned by sheer memory. A student of mathematics must minimize memorization and maximize reasoning to find the correct method for a problem. If a student has something tangible that he can hold, see, feel, and better yet if he can make it for himself, much more retention of the subject is possible. Through the use of instructional aids memorization can be minimized and the student's imagination will be challenged. He must still reason to solve problems, but imagination acts as a stimulus to reason.
Sawyer, Sandra Lee, "Teaching Aids in Mathematics" (1969). Honors Theses. 623.