The Mathematical Intelligencer

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 22–27 | Cite as

Human activity: The soft underbelly of mathematics?

  • A. D. Gardiner


Human activity and experience are an integral part of mathematics. They not only play a crucial role in the creative process of research but are also basic to the way human beings learn. I have suggested three lines of attack which would give students a better understanding of what mathematics is really about. First, we have to show them how (at least some of) the material they are studying originated and evolved into its present form through the combined efforts of generations of mathematicians. Second, we must encourage them to take an active part in their own learning, not just by practising routine exercises but by developing their own creative talents—thereby sharpening their insight into the way mathematics is created. Third, we have to find some way of relating higher mathematics to students’ previous experience. “The more abstract the truth is that you would teach, the more you have to seduce the senses to it” (F. Nietzsche,Beyond Good and Evil).


Undergraduate Program High Mathematic Problem Orient Lecture Method Creative Talent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. D. Gardiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUnited Kingdom

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