## Re: "Madam, I'm 2002 - a Numerically Beautiful Year"

Letter to the Editor

The New York Times

January 2, 2002

(Not published)

To the editor

Re: "A Numerically Beautiful Year"; (Alfred S. Posamontier, op-ed Jan
2nd):

Because mathematics, through and including calculus, is necessary for
careers ranging from medicine to business to engineering, it is
critical that young students’ love for mathematics be instilled
by exposing them to content-rich and arithmetic-intensive problems
such as the one elucidated by Professor Alfred S. Posamontier (" A
Numerically Beautiful Year," op-ed Jan 2nd).

Increasingly and unfortunately, in a misguided effort to make
mathematics enjoyable, some K-12 curriculum developers, apparently
unable or unwilling to address the task of preparing students for
college mathematics, have induced the National Science Foundation to
invest hundreds of millions of dollars in experimental curricula that
de-emphasize the development of arithmetic and algebra skills.
Specifically, the National Science Foundation-sponsored program
currently being tested in some of New York City's flagship school
districts is nearly devoid of useful and challenging mathematical
content. Especially egregious is that K-5 curriculum's failure to
provide even minimally adequate arithmetic practice: all of the
student worksheets together contain fewer than twenty problems
requiring students to multiply whole numbers between 6 and 9
inclusive, either as a standalone problem or as part of a longer
calculation.

Mathematically deficient programs cannot instill love for mathematics.
It is critical that university mathematicians and scientists work
together with curriculum developers to provide youngsters with both an
enjoyable learning experience and the mathematics content that is
needed to meet the escalating demands of the workplace. Failure to do
so will cripple the mathematical development of many children,
especially those whose parents cannot afford the cost of outside
tutoring, and deprive them of access to mathematics-based careers.

Stanley Ocken

Professor of Mathematics

The City College of the City University of New York

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