The reform of English mathematical education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
thesisposted on 11.03.2010, 12:09 by Michael Haydn Price
This thesis is a case study in the growing field of curriculum history. The principal focus is on mathematics in a general secondary education, and particularly during the period 1900-1914 of major curricular upheaval. However, relevant aspects of the nineteenth-century background are discussed; a number of the longer term features of change are traced up to the 1940s; and some related developments in infant, elementary, higher elementary, technical, and teacher, including university, education are also considered. It is argued that major change was a consequence of an accumulation of circumstances of different kinds in the years around the turn of the century. In particular, important developments in the structure and patterns of the educational system and administrative control are considered, as well as features of the 'new education' movement which have particular implications for teaching methods in mathematics. In addition, the influences of scientific and technical education are shown to be importance, of central the latter influence being associated with what became known during the period as the 'Perry movement’. The newer ideals for a more 'useful' and 'practical' mathematical education and the extent of their realization are explored in detail. In the implementation of change, the work of various individuals and organizations, operating locally, nationally and internationally, is discussed, and the Mathematical Association in particular, as well as the Board of Education. The importance of examining bodies and the teaching Force itself for the scope and character of actual change is strongly emphasized. It is also shown that reaction to the direction of change, evaluation of progress, and refinement of the thinking in mathematical education were further distinctive products of the Period of major reform in English mathematical education.