Insights from ICME IV for U.S. Mathematics Education

  • James T. Fey


In December 1979 Izaak Wirszup, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago, submitted a memorandum to the U.S. National Science Foundation outlining recent changes in science and mathematics education programs of the Soviet Union. Based on his extensive studies of Soviet technical and educational literature, Wirszup concluded that graduates of Soviet secondary schools now receive so much more mathematical and scientific training than U.S. students that the gap poses a formidable challenge to American national security. Wirszup’s report soon circulated widely; it was noted by science journalists, and led to major news stories in many cities. These ominous reports of foreign progress in education exacerbated the continuing public criticism of U.S. education, re-awakened memories of earlier studies showing superb performance of Japanese mathematics students but only modest achievement of U.S. young people, and sent many American mathematics educators to the Fourth International Congress on Mathematics Education with a mixture of curiosity and concern about our national effort in mathematics teaching.


Mathematics Teacher School Mathematics Teacher Burnout Mathematics Major Science Journalist 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • James T. Fey
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandUSA

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