How has the teaching of mathematics evolved?

How has the teaching of mathematics evolved?

Mathematics has evolved enormously in the last two centuries, but so has the way of teaching the discipline and the material used in classes.

Let’s take a short tour to find out more about these changes!

To begin with, we can distinguish several stages in the teaching of mathematics :

  • Mathematics in the 19th century
  • Mathematics in the first half of the 20th century
  • Modern mathematics
  • Mathematics today

In the 19th century, the blackboard and abacus were mainly used to teach mathematics. Children from the lower social classes could attend school for free, although it was usually middle-class children who had the most access to education. On the other hand, the higher social classes had the services of governesses, private teachers who taught children at home.

With the approval of the Public Instruction Law of 1857 , also known as the Moyano Law, the structure and content of mathematics in primary and secondary education was established. This law divided primary education into elementary and higher cycles, and secondary into two periods of three years each.

This program was maintained with slight changes until the beginning of the 20th century.

As for the first half of the 20th century, let’s place ourselves between 1901 and 1903, when the Count of Romanones drew up two Royal Decrees regulating the exams and the contents of the baccalaureate until the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. At that time, there was only mathematics for the first four years of the six that comprised high school. The contents are limited to Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra and Trigonometry.

We would have to wait until the Second Republic (1934) to find significant changes and a certain modernity in what refers to the teaching of non-university mathematics.

In 1959, a meeting sponsored by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) was held, which marked a before and after in the teaching of mathematics in some European countries.

Some years later, in 1962, in Spain, the Commission for the didactic essay on Modern Mathematics was created, which set the topics that should be studied from primary education, for example, operations with sets, Cartesian product, binary relations, etc.

We reached 1970, and the General Education Law , by which the EGB, the BUP and the COU were created. Although the objective was to reform and modernize obsolete plans, the results were not entirely positive, since they focused on certain areas, to the detriment of others such as numerical calculation. However, these study plans were in force until the mid-1990s, with the arrival of the LOGSE.

Finally, in 2013,  the LOMCE introduced a series of changes in education, which would also affect the subject of Mathematics. One of the most notable was the increase in the number of hours of math classes.

Have you ever wondered what math teaching and learning will be like in the future? How has the teaching of mathematics evolved?

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