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R. L. Moore


  1. Patio "A" Events
  2. Exhibit and Family Tree
  3. MAA Panel Discussion: Discovery-based teaching of undergraduate mathematics courses
  4. Talks by Hagopian, Eyles, Lewis, Parker, and Schumacher
  5. Arnold E. Ross Interview
  6. Some Observations of Educational Issues
  7. Texas Exes

The Legacy Project's sessions at the San Antonio meetings were sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America and owe much of their success to the preparatory help of the MAA staff, especially Associate Executive Director Don Albers and Associate Secretary Jim Tattersall.

1. PATIO "A"

The project's presentations at the San Antonio meetings attracted some 200 people, many of them making more than one visit, over the total of forty hours that Patio A was open from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday evening.

Each of the seven scheduled showings of the 1967 film about R.L. Moore, "Challenge in the Classroom," had an attendance of fifteen to thirty-five. In between these showings people dropped by to look at videos of interviews with students, to talk with others about their interests in R.L. Moore, to sign up for our general mailing list or for the April conference, and to look over the thirty-nine handouts. The handouts proved to be quite popular; we are planning to make them available on our website as well.

The reception Friday evening brought together about eighty people and proved to be an excellent way for students of R.L. Moore and those of us working on the project to meet with a wide range of people for whom Moore had been at most only an historical figure. We look forward to posting on our web site some of the photographs taken.

The Legacy Project's representatives from the Center for American History, Christopher Bourell (student of history and secondary education at UT) and Ruben Martinez (graduate history of science student), put in long hours helping with all aspects of our activities. Their friendly enthusiasm and helpful knowledge of R.L. Moore made visitors feel welcome -- and feel free to discuss some rather advanced mathematics with them at times.

Sixty-five visitors signed up to be added to our Friends of the Legacy Project mailing list.


The five-panel exhibition on R.L. Moore's life and work was split between Patio A and a booth in the MAA area of the exhibit hall. The Project NExT booth was a neighbor. In addition to sign-up sheets and a couple of handouts, our one table had the "Family Tree"binder produced by William "Ted" Mahavier. This compilation, and the duplicate copy in Patio A, caught the attention of many people who were curious if they or someone they knew was listed as an academic descendant of R.L. Moore, H.S. Wall or H.J. Ettlinger.

Though the listed students of this cooperative group of University of Texas professors include many of those most directly influenced by Moore, it is limited to doctoral students. A Project NExT person said rather regretfully that she could only count herself as a "step-child" of Moore: her professor, Judith Roitman, was not officially a doctoral student of Mary Ellen Rudin though Rudin was effectively Roitman's principal supervisor. Then there are those who took only one or two courses under these Texas professors and who did not take up a career in mathematics -- a group that we are just beginning to document.

3. MAA PANEL DISCUSSION: Discovery-Based Teaching Of Undergraduate Mathematics Courses.

The panel session conducted by Ted Mahavier and James Ochoa went smoothly despite standing-room only conditions. For those of you who missed the session, the Legacy of R.L. Moore Project provided funding for a video tape of the session to be included in the R.L. Moore Archives at theCenter for American History at The University of Texas at Austin. Steve Armentrout and Tom Ingram were unable to attend due to weather and after substitutions were made, the five panelists, in order of presentation, were: John Neuberger, Jerome Dancis, Mary Ellen Rudin, Stuart Anderson, and Ben Fitzpatrick, Jr. Each offered considerable insight into the Moore Method and the audience joined in regularly, offering comments and questions. Their contact information follows:

John Neuberger
Department of Mathematics
Univerity of North Texas
Denton, TX 76203-5116

Jerome Dancis (Jerry)
Department of Mathematics
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-4015

Mary Ellen Rudin
Department of Mathematics
University of Wisconsin
480 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Stuart Anderson
Department of Mathematics
Texas A&M @ Commerce
Commerce TX 75429

Ben Fitzpatrick

Steve Armentrout
Department of Mathematics
Pennsylvania State University
207 McAllister Bldg
University Park, PA 16802-6401

Tom Ingram
Department of Mathematics
University of Missouri at Rolla
1870 Miner Circle
Rolla, MO 65409-0020


The Special Session on Geometry in Dynamics organized by Krystyna Kuperberg featured a number of speakers from the Moore school: James Keesling, Wayne Lewis, Dan Mauldin, Judy Kennedy, Christopher Stark, Christopher Mouron, Alejandro Illanes, and Charles Hagopian.

On Friday, 15 January, Joseph W. Eyles talked at the AMS Session on Mathematical Education. Based on Dr. Moore's handwritten notes and the speaker's oral history interviews with former students, "The Importance of R.L. Moore's Calculus Course" described ten important features of classroom practice and touched on the role calculus played in Dr. Moore's teaching program.

Also on Friday, Albert C. Lewis spoke at the AMS-MAA Special Session on History of Mathematics on "R.L. Moore and Innovations in Mathematics Education." About the time R.L. Moore went to the University of Chicago in 1903 there was an influential debate between his Texas professor, George Bruce Halsted, and the Chicago philosopher, psychologist, and pedagogue John Dewey about how to teach geometry. The issues raised concerning the role of logical rigor in teaching mathematics echo issues today in discussions of constructivist educational theories.

At the Friday MAA Session on Proof in Mathematical Education, G. Edgar Parker, James Madison University, used R.L. Moore as an example in his talk "Proof for the General Education Student."

Following Parker's talk, Carol S. Schumacher, Kenyon College, also referred to Moore in her talk entitled "It's their transition -- You can't make it for them." She described ways of meeting the challenge of helping students to think abstractly as they learn how to construct proofs: "the instructor needs to find the fortitude not to do it for them."


Arnold Ross graciously submitted to a video-taped interview, attended by Albert Lewis, John Worrell, and Ben Fitzpatrick, in which he recalled studying under E. H. Moore at the University of Chicago. In his view, Moore was an enormously dedicated mathematician and teacher, and his emphasis on developing the subject as a living, growing phenomenon with active participation by the students, as contrasted to presenting the subject in polished lectures, may well have contributed to R.L. Moore's enthusiasm for having his own students develop their own mathematics. In short, the Moore method as we understand it today may have come in part from the training E.H. Moore provided. Ross talked at length of his Summer Scholars Program, in which over the last forty years he and some like-minded colleagues have encouraged and helped develop high school students who show promise and interest in mathematics. Ross is very sympathetic to the Moore school; he calls us "co-conspirators" and looks forward to a continuing relationship with the Legacy Project.

In a talk at the meetings (jointly with Glenn Stevens), Ross answered some critics of his summer program by showing how it is not the case that the participants are already motivated and talented. Some of the key phrases he used, or quoted from his students, were: "culture of exploration," "developing a taste for hard problems," "personal discoveries," and "finding the buried gold."


There were ample opportunities at the meetings to observe aspects of the debate over current educational reform movements. Undoubtedly many of us are thankful that R.L. Moore did not present himself as a pedagogical theorist and that instead he simply developed and practiced a method of teaching that worked well. The theoretical debates he left for others.

Discovery learning in some of its various guises came under attack by several speakers. In a panel discussion on the evaluation of state standards for school mathematics, Ralph A. Raimi, University of Rochester, criticized what he regarded as extreme forms of discovery learning, though this was not the focus of his presentation.

In the course of his talk at the AMS Special Session on Mathematics Education and Mistaken Philosophies of Mathematics, Richard Askey, University of Wisconsin, Madison, took Jeremy Kilpatrick (a student of E.G. Begle) to task. Askey cited Kilpatrick's article, "Confronting Reform," in the American Mathematical Monthly for December 1997 which defended the NCTM standards.

In the same session, Saunders Mac Lane, University of Chicago, in "Social Constructivism as a Philosophy of Mathematics" included Paul Ernest among his targets for sharp criticism.

Also in this session, Anthony D. Gardiner, University of Birmingham, spoke on "What Is (School) Mathematics, Really?" Much of the curriculum, teaching, and assessment in England have been distorted by a superficial interpretation of Lakatos's "Proofs and Refutations." There is in general, Gardiner maintained, a need to base reform on observed facts and proven methods.

Andrew Gleason, Harvard University, in the AMS-MAA-MER Special Session on Mathematics and Education Reform, proposed that the most important task facing mathematics today is the evaluation of the reform efforts, past and present. He believes that a review of the "new math" efforts of the 60s and 70s could be very useful if evaluated from the point of view of their objectives.


The Legacy Project is beginning to trace all of the students (i.e. anyone who attended their classes) of Moore, Wall and Ettlinger and others influenced by them. One of the sources of information is the database of the Ex-Students' Association of The University of Texas. It would help this effort if we assured the Association that all of those we reach are encouraged to join. For those on our Friends list for whom this is relevant more information can be found at the web site www.utexas.edu/alumni; or The Ex-Students' Association, PO Box 7278, Austin, TX 78713-7278; or 1-800-369-0023.

Acknowledgements: Thanks for assistance to Joe Eyles, Dave Roberts, and Ted Mahavier.

Please send any responses, suggestions, or more news to:

Ben Fitzpatrick, Jr.

Albert C. Lewis
E-mail: alewis2@iupui.edu

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