Some Non-technical Writings

Here is a list of titles of papers you may read at leisure; just select the highlighted brief title. A few of these papers concern math or science education, but are included on this page anyhow because they do not in fact require any particular expertise.

On Opening Doors, being a comment on the etiquette of growing old, and an open question.

Acceptance Speech, a speech I have planned for when I get an honorary degree, but printed here because I'm still waiting.

The Content of the Form from Hayden White. This is an example of scholarly prose composed by a well-known historian, followed by a list of exercises composed by myself.

Postmodern Science: Two Texts, being two quotations from authors other than myself. Very brief, very pungent. Revised December, 2004.

Editorial Decapitation, a short tale of my unsuccessful attempt to shame a newspaper. Revised and posted December 26, 2010.

A Letter to Gene Genovese, something I was impelled to write an old friend, concerning an incomplete conversion to reason. Posted July, 2002.

Newton's Unpublished Calculus Book, a study of compressed misinformation. Posted 1996.

The Neutralizing of Mathematics, a comment on the feminist linguistics and its contributions to mathematics. Posted 1997.

Merit: A Debate, concerning the merit derived from having the right ancestors.

A Misdirected Lesson, being a discussion of the wickedness of having students file formal evaluations of their professors.

Relevance, another, though shorter, comment on the antics of the universities in the wake of the student revolutions.

A Penny Saved, a domestic fantasy, a musing on arthritis, wine and the IRS.

Mark Kac, R.I.P., a memory written for the local newspaper, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, in 1984.

Leopoldo Nachbin, R.I.P., the text of a my comments at a memorial service for Leopoldo at the University of Rochester chapel in 1993. Posted here May 8, 2005.

Precision in Speech, an op-ed piece written for the Democrat & Chronicle in 1994 but not printed by them. It explains in 940 words one way in which Americans are hobbled in their attempt to learn mathematics.

How the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Teaches Children to Lie, an account of one futile effort to comply with a request for help from a sister organization of the American Mathematical Society. Posted October 8, 2008.

Whatever became of the New Math?, a brief, incomplete and biased account of the school math phenomenon of the 1960s.

Have we forgotten the value of memory?, a comment on the New York Regents' B-examination in mathematics and its associated crib sheet.

Rote-memory: Just how wicked is it?,another note on memory, but a short one, posted Feb 2, 2001.

Alfie, a report on a lecture given by Alfie Kohn as part of a program of staff development of school math teachers in the Rochester area, December 5, 2001. Or: Where your tax dollar goes.

The psychoanalysis of division sums, a curious episode in the history of mathematics education, in which the famous psychoanalyst Melanie Klein uncovers the source of algorithm avoidance.

The agony of having to go back to school in the fall., a comment on the public's insistence on distinguishing between learning and fun. This "Op-ed" piece appeared, with only slight degradation, in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle on September 27, 1998.

Why the public schools? A 2006 lecture by Laurent Lafforgue, French mathematician and recipient of the Fields medal in 2002, good reading for anyone who wishes to nail down the deficiencies of today’s schools by comparing them with we could have but do not, neither in France nor in America.  (Translated into English, and posted Jan 6, 2008)

A 1958 caution concerning the New Math, being the text of a personal letter from me to Frank Quigley at Yale on the possible fate of the newly-established SMSG and how to prevent it.

Brighton, New York, an affluent suburb of Rochester, another personal letter (with response and retort), this one concerning the state of education in the Brighton, New York schools in 1970, as observed close up, and partly in the words of the perpetrators.

A Clinical Study of Math Anxiety, just what it says, though based on a severely limited number of clinical trials. Posted 2003.

Is Mathematics a Foreign Language?, a note on discourse analysis.

On Chairmen, concerning The Philomathic Debating Club, Robert's Rules of Order and the feminist abuse of the English language.

Niles, Michigan, concerning Ring Lardner and two other high school graduates.

If It Ain't Broke, concerning pornography and the therapeutic society as examplified by the advisors to Ann Landers, and the understanding lady herself.

The Middleman, a comment on wickedness in the retail sector.

The Armchair Economist, another comment on economics, this one masquerading as a review of a good book by an old friend. The book, which got printed, must be better than the review, which didn't.

On Airports and Socialism, a comment on the engineering doctrine of equilibrium and feedback, and its explanatory power, or something like that. Economics again, but not impossible to read.

A Shortage of Labor, a 1982 comment on one of the minor problems of the late Soviet Union, then called "The Soviet Union." It never made it into the pages of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

A New School Supervisor for Yaroslav, or maybe West Springfield,another comment on one of the minor problems of the late Soviet Union, though strongly resembling a recurrent American problem. Or is it the other way round? Posted 8 November 2004.

Incident in Philharmonic Hall, a brief and maybe somber encounter between two old strangers. Slightly revised, and posted 6 January 2008.

Etude, 1942, a brief memoir concerning Beethoven and some people whose names I have changed for this study. Posted January, 1990.

Curious Incident in the Faculty Club, just what it says, and all true. Posted ca.1990.

Phil Nusholtz, a rather long memoir about an old friend, now deceased. A true story in every detail.

Kit Lasch in 1994 , a rather shorter memoir, on a sometime colleague at the University of Rochester, and on his words on the retirement of another. (Posted 31 August 2009)

A Professor of Clinical Psychology, another, mercifully shorter, memoir, about another old friend (now deceased). Not quite true in every detail.

Academic Dishonesty, A Memoir, a story about myself in 1942.

Honor Codes, concerning the criminology of cheating and plagiarism among undergraduates.

E Pluribus Unum, a vicious, racist attack on multiculturalism and feminism.

Amos Morris, My Writing Teacher, a memoir of a crank from whom I learned a lot in 1941. (Posted 2003)

Metaphor, concerning language and politics.

The Separation of Church and State, concerning my father's citizenship in America.

Forty Years in the Desert, concerning my uncle Zalman's sojourn in America. A sad story, written about 1970.

The Triumph of Socialism, a memoir of my childhood and of the death of my mother sixty years later, with a lesson in between.

Diversity, a vicious, racist attack on the University of Rochester's efforts to improve human relations.

The Mutilation of Alice Walker, the agony of (black, feminine) literary fame at the hands of those who just don't get it.

"The woman you described ...", on the inevitability of the battle of the sexes. Posted 20 June 2004.

              Why can't you just ask?,  another view of the battle of the sexes.  Posted 8 November 2005.                       

W.A.R.T., on public financing of the Arts (especially for the children).

Electron shells and Cargo cults, on what passes for successful science education in our schools. (This one is not as long or as good as the next one down this page.)

The Place of Science in a Liberal Education, this one being a longie. Serious.

Educational Inflation, a comment on how success in public education is achieved, but with hope for the future anyhow. Posted April 10, 2004, revised November 2, 2005.

VESTED INTERESTS, an advertisement for my book of essays and fantasies. Good book.

THE PHILOMATHIC DEBATING CLUB, an advertisement for my little history of a phenomenon of my youth, and before. Good book.

Other documents will be added to this list from time to time.