Keith Devlin is going to be offering another instance of his online course, Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, starting on March 4. The idea is to serve as a bridge between high school mathematics— which focuses on solving specific types of problems using specific procedures, thinking “inside the box”—and university-level mathematics—which focuses more on general problem-solving and understanding, thinking “outside the box”. Devlin makes a nice anaolgy with cars: if high school math is like learning to drive, university math is like learning about how cars work, how to fix them, and even how to design and build your own.
Of course, I don’t think that’s what high school mathematics should be like (and I’m pretty sure Devlin would agree with me there), but given that it usually is, this course seems to fill a very useful role, and I think it might appeal to some of my readers.
Incidentally, Devlin is offering the course through Coursera, one of the main emerging platforms for hosting MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I don’t yet have much experience with MOOCs, but plan to take a course on Coursera in a few weeks, (Analytic Combinatorics, Part I) and will certainly write about my experience here!