NOMAD 7(2), 1999. Synspunkter på matematikk i utdanningen sett i lys av matematikkens rolle på to utvalgte arbeidsplasser.

RONALD BRADAL

Abstract

Mathematics at the workplace is dominated by routine. Avoiding faults is the most important feature. Computer programs do all computation. Specialists do the production of necessary software. At many workplaces the functioning of the software is hidden to the user. The mathematics used in a particular workplace is specialised and adjusted to the needs of every kind of work. The mathematics we learn at school in order to qualify for an occupation is to a great extent irrelevant for what will be in practical use in that occupation. The production of software is highly skilled work for a few specialists. Smaller programs can be made at the workplace, but the mathematics used is adapted to special needs. This article includes an analysis of the mathematics present at two workplaces followed by a discussion of the relations between the mathematics applied at a work and the mathematics taught in school.

I suspect that many people in society expect that mathematics learned in school should be directly transferable to practical use at their workplace. This is not so, but traditional teaching seems to be done according this paradigm. Even if mathematics is hidden and only a few workers need to do computations themselves, mathematics plays a crucial role in production life. It is my opinion that mathematics in school should be seen more as a cultural subject. Students should be taught about the role mathematics has in production life, and also in other fields of society. The history of mathematics must be a part of this.
(The article is published in Norwegian)

Ronald Bradal, Høgskolen i Hedmark, Norway