Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Perniciousness of Negative Numbers: Are Our Children Safe?

What follows is a paper I just wrote for a class called History of Mathematics for Middle School Teachers. The actual name of the paper was "The History of Negative Numbers in Mathematics and Education," but that's not exactly click bait, so I livened it up here. Most of the paper is about how mathematicians sort of pretended they were ignoring negative numbers for a while, then publicly freaked out about how ridiculous they were, then finally came to love them. I'm sure many of us have had an in-law relationship like that, so maybe you can relate. The end of the paper is an appendix with some thoughts about activities for students that reinforce the methods and philosophies described in the rest of the paper.