As we move forward in our discussion of how we can use the internet to help us teach mathematics, this week I wanted to concentrate on how we can link mathematics to history. Our students learn math in a bubble, and they usually have no link to mathematical history or to famous mathematicians. This is a shame because there are a lot of famous problems and historical topics that can be linked to mathematics.
I think the best way for students to appreciate the history behind the study of mathematics is for them to either write a paper or do some research on the topic. In my own investigation of the history of mathematics I came across some good resources that I want to share with you.
1. You may ask students to do research in terms of important history topics. These topics can include the core classes we think of now, such as Algebra, Geometry, or can branch out to analysis, astronomy, and physics. They can also include a broad overview of the history of mathematics.
2. Students can also base their research on famous mathematicians even narrowing down their research to searches such as famous woman mathematicians.
3. Finally, students can do research on famous unsolved problems. Though some of these may be hard for students to understand, the discovery portion of the task and explaining a difficult problem to others is extremely beneficial.
I highly recommend adding this research component to any class. I don’t think we can afford to continue to teach mathematics without giving our students some background information.