Volume 8, Issue 2     Editorial (2)
The field of mathematics made possible the great achievements of the scientific revolution and is today indispensable in science, technology, and many professions. Mathematics is no longer regarded as a unitary, simple subject in the curriculum, but it is considered to be a separate form of literacy, and by some even to be a separate language, with inherent theoretical and logical content, a classical art, and the only universal language. In spite of its importance, the typical student learns only enough utilitarian math or arithmetic to cope with common daily problems, a level of knowledge incommensurate with the demands of modern democracies. As the mathematician and author John Allen Paulos warned, failure of politicians, journalists, and common citizens to understand mathematics leads to poor decisions and bad public policies. Problems of innumeracy have become a matter of concern in many nations, especially as mathematics is now the essential gateway to higher education and studies in advanced and technical areas. As attention has been drawn to the problems students at all levels experience in this field, the teacher who must assist them is faced with a challenge that is often frustrating and at times disheartening. Recent instructional reform, especially in the United States, has focused on sense making and problem solving rather than rote memorization of facts and processes and computational problems. Even so, current reforms in math education are similar to those of a generation ago, when "new math" was introduced without sound research but an earnest eagerness to experiment with untried procedures. Some issues stir controversy and debate, such as phonics versus whole language, sex education, school prayer, or evolution, but mathematics reform escapes the attention of the public. Without a doubt, research about math must continue in order to determine the effectiveness of current and proposed reforms, and to evaluate the success of programs that are implemented in the K-12 and higher education curricula. This special edition of research about math education provides research articles ranging elementary and post-secondary education topics, including current interest in math anxiety, gender and cultural diversity, mathematical thinking, contextual learning, parent involvement, computer-assisted instruction, the use of calculators, and pedagogical knowledge of teachers. It is hoped that these articles will spark a continued interest in research in this important field and highlight the efforts of researchers who are engaged in important endeavors that may otherwise go unnoticed in the hurly-burly of educational politics.
gemarsh@emTech.net                 bjprice@emTech.net             amcfadde@emTech.net
The University of Alabama