However, because of the hierarchical nature of mathematics and its heavy dependence at any level on prerequisites, high school and even college mathematics courses have at times been strongly affected by progressivist ideas, especially at the end of the 20th century.The political struggles and policy changes in mathematics education in the 1980s, and especially the 1990s are the major topics of this chapter.His book, Foundations of Method, written in 1925 became a standard text for teacher education courses across the country.
Education Secretary Richard Riley called for an end to the "math wars" in a speech before a joint meeting of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America, he could not have known that within two years, the department he directed would become the focus of the very math wars he sought to quell. Within a month of that release, 200 university mathematicians added their names to an open letter to Secretary Riley calling upon his department to withdraw those recommendations. Secretary of Education had himself become embroiled in the nation's math wars. The immediate cause of the math wars of the 90s was the introduction and widespread distribution of new math textbooks with radically diminished content, and a dearth of basic skills.
In no other country is school practice so quickly responsive to the suggestions emanating from this group.
We may stigmatize our schools as "static, " "reactionary," "slow to change,"-- reluctant to adopt what we, in our wisdom, prescribe.
The influence on high school math teachers, while still powerful, has been less direct because of the subject matter specialization of the high school curriculum.
The content demands of mathematics itself have limited the direct influence of some pedagogical fashions on high school math teachers.