Mathematics Reform for the `Real World'

The changes in the way that mathematics is taught in school described in the Learning page article "Math Lessons for the Real World," Nov. 9, are exactly the wrong type of educational reform in light of ongoing efforts to make the United States more technologically competitive with the rest of the world.

Mathematics is a foundation for every engineering, scientific, and technical field of study.

The 1989 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards endorsed by Thomas Romberg, director of the National Center for Research in Mathematical Sciences Education, represent a drastic watering down of the secondary school mathematics curricula. They dismiss algebra and geometry as old disciplines, while eliminating calculus entirely from schools.

Calculus is the starting point for college-level math. Students who took this new curriculum in high school would find themselves two years behind their traditionally taught classmates on the first day of college. These currently proposed changes are an unwelcome turn back to second-rate mathematics. Bill O'Meara, Seattle

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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