Mathematics and Statistics
The Ohio Section: Postscript
Looking at the 75-year record of the Ohio Section gives one an overwhelming feeling of deja-vu. For example, at the 1931 annual meeting, Chairman W.G. Simon (Western Reserve University) expressed fears that "students who take a first course in calculus acquire little more than a knowledge of its technique." At the same meeting, Harris Hancock (University of Cincinnati) considered the growth of "University Publications and University Presses." Estimating that at least $200,000 could be profitably spent on mathematical publications, exclusive of journals, for the decade 1930-40, he asked, "How should this sum be raised?"
Complaints about the lack of mathematical preparation on the part of college freshmen have been heard again and again. In 1923 Chairman H.L. Coar (Marietta College) referred to the "gap between high school and college mathematics," created by students' lack of knowledge of our elementary number system, their unfamiliarity with the language of mathematics, and a hazy conception of how to think analytically. A quarter of a century later Wayne Dancer (University of Toledo) reported that most colleges still "feel obliged to give courses in elementary and intermediate algebra, and in plane and solid geometry." A 1958 report from the Commission on Mathematics of the College Entrance Examination Board noted that "the standard curriculum taught in most secondary schools is sadly out of date."
The preparation of elementary and secondary school teachers has been a perennial concern of the Section. Two papers at the first annual meeting set forth minimum requirements for a teacher of secondary school mathematics, and a decade later Professor Hancock was advocating that teachers of mathematics in the secondary schools who have majored in mathematics "be put on a more advanced salary scale than those teachers of mathematics who are not so qualified." Members attending the fortieth annual meeting heard Herschel Grime, Supervisor of Mathematics for the Cleveland Public Schools, say that there was a "critical shortage of elementary teachers and mathematics teachers in the secondary schools." In mathematics education, as in so many other walks of life, the more things change the more they stay the same.
In the final analysis, however, the Ohio Section means much more to its members than meetings, papers, committee reports, and business. To paraphrase the words of a past chairman, James Murtha (Marietta College), the Section means friendships -- familiar faces at meetings; a chance to talk with colleagues and learn how they approach teaching and thinking about mathematics. It provides opportunities to explore other campuses; to compare and commiserate about problems that are often all too common; to put our own professional lives into perspective. The section meetings enable us to hear, talk to, and rub elbows with some "big names" in mathematics, who usually turn out to be very reasonable and approachable human beings. We are exposed to new trends, changing priorities, and re-examined topics in mathematics and generally kept pretty much up to date.
In the 1989 annual report of the MAA it was noted that, once again, the members attending section meetings far outnumbered those attending the two national meetings of the MAA that year. The Ohio Section is proud to have served thousands of members over the past 75 years and looks forward to meeting the professional needs of thousands more in the years to come.
Copyright 1990, The Ohio Section, MAA, All rights reserved.