Ross School - Senior Project 2013


Student: Jonathan Lesser

Mentor: James Earle

Domains: Mathematics, History

Faculty Grader: Gary Skellington Jr.


Documentation of Product


Title: Teaching How to Think: A Neuclidean Education


Modern mathematics education is flawed. Teachers are forced to teach students under the crushing restraints of state education systems, not to mention the stringent test requirements to be accepted to top universities. These conditions have forced educators to condense and simplify, offering only tricks to remember how to do calculations without ever providing contextual background or explanation of any kind. This results in a general distaste for mathematics being instilled in the majority of students from a depressingly young age. These students are never exposed to the beauty and elegance of mathematics. The quest for mathematical understanding is the quest to understand everything. Mathematics governs every aspect of nature, but never learn how to see this. The goal of my project is to develop a mathematics curriculum that encourages the type of analytical thinking that is so lacking in most high school mathematics course. To make this knowledge accessible, I use the original analytical thinkers who founded their respective branches of mathematics. Through the study of Euclid’s Elements and Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi’s Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing I created a curriculum that inspires the mathematical creativity of those who did not have the modern tricks that are so abused, but does not sacrifice the success of students in institutions outside the classroom.




Exhibition & Presentation Summary


Presentation: Powerpoint


Works Consulted


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Discourse on method, Optics, Geometry, and Meteorology. Rev. ed. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 2001. Print.


Heath, Thomas Little. The thirteen books of Euclid's Elements,. 2 ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1956. Print.


Joyce, D. E.. "Euclid's Elements." Clark University Mathematics. Clark University, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. <>.


Katz, Victor J.. A History of Mathematics: An Introduction. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. Print.


The algebra of Mohammed ben Musa. London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1831. Print.


Pickover, Clifford A.. The Math Book. New York, NY: Sterling Pub., 2009. Print.


Wolfram, Conrad. " Teaching kids real math with computers.” TED. Nov 2010. Lecture.