Mathematics Education: Taking a Clue
From the Recent Technological Revolution
What does it mean to be a student?
I was born and brought up in Russia and there we were taught English in the English manner, not American. Children who went to school were called pupils. Students were the ones attending universities. The dictionary definitions reveal the difference:
pu·pil n. 1. A student under the direct supervision of a teacher or professor.
And for student, from The American Heritage Dictionary:
stu·dent n. 1. One who attends a school, college, or university. 2.a. One who makes a study of something.
And from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary:
stu·dent n. 1. SCHOLAR, LEARNER: esp: one who attends a school 2. One who studies: an attentive and systematic observer
Sure enough, the American usage comes first. Webster's seems to remind us that a student is, first of all, a learner but then digresses to the usual American meaning. I think that the difference between a pupil and a student, as a learner, is significant and telling. The American usage is all screwed up. If I were to sum up the goal of the current education reform, I would say that the problem with mathematics education is that most of the students are in fact pupils but every one hopes that education, after the reform, will turn them into learners.