Roaring Twenties: What did it take to be a Math Teacher?

Danielle M. Bevan, Katherine N. Vela, Lynn M. Burlbaw, Robert M. Capraro

Abstract


Pursuing a teaching career in 1920 took more than a simple test to assess your knowledge in just one subject.  Interested candidates could choose one of two paths, enroll in a teacher program through a university or normal school or take the state created certification tests. Those who chose to take the tests had to take and pass 12 individual tests in order to apply for a 4 or 6 year certificate. The authors examined and compiled a listing of the State created certification test questions for arithmetic, algebra, and solid geometry from records discovered at George Memorial Library, a Texas Regional Historical Resource Depository, in Richmond, TX. Four arithmetic administrations were transcribed and categorized into mathematics topics. Of these four administrations, two of them, August 20, 1920 and September 3, 1920, were cross-referenced to nine test taker responses. During the August 20, 1920 administration of the test, authors found five test takers’ responses that correlated to the test questions. They also found four test takers’ responses that correlated to the September 3, 1920 administration. The authors analyzed the methods the test takers used when solving the questions on these two administrations. Between the test takers, the most common mistakes were simple computation errors, which jeopardized the test takers’ final score. The results in this study are important because each of the questions give you a glimpse into what it was like to live in the 1920s. The context of the questions also shares the values and goal of education during this time, which was to create a well-rounded individual who would be successful in society.


Keywords


Arithmetic;Texas State Certification; 1920s; Teacher Certification; Mathematics History

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References


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