Developing mathematics teaching with original sources

DidMat-seminar with Prof. Henrik Kragh Sørensen, IND-KU


In the mathematics curriculum of Danish upper-secondary schools (STX), history of mathematics is listed as a mandatory component. Its aims are at least twofold beyond its obvious role in showing the development of mathematical results, itself: History of mathematics can provide insights into the interactions between mathematics and culture, science, and technology. And it can be used to teach about the methods and identity of mathematics.

In this talk, I address these three aims in the Danish contexts: teaching relevant mathematics, crossing disciplinary boundaries in the school and addressing philosophical questions about mathematics.

My central case is the first introduction of logistic growth in a short publication from 1838 by the Belgian mathematician P.-F. Verhulst. We have developed materials for using this authentic piece of mathematics to engage students with open inquiry into a range of issues.