If Americans do "stink" at math, clearly it is because they find the math in school to be unlearnable. [...] For the past four decades or so the mathematics contained in standard textbooks has played havoc with the teaching and learning of school mathematics.
Reducing learning mathematics to memorizing "facts and skills" does not work as witnessed by the fact that "developmental mathematics", with memorization at its core, has now been in existence for some fifty years without having ever shown any sign of success---as measured by what happens to the students in subsequent courses. (That there is about no "longitudinal study" may thus not be an accident and, in fact, the only one I know of is here.)
Contrary to what most people believe, students and teachers alike, there is nothing inherently difficult in mathematics up to and including the "mathematics of change", also known as Differential Calculus, which everybody should be able to learn.
The truth or falsehood of mathematical statements does not originate in textbooks, or in teachers saying so, but because the real world makes them necessarily so.
So, in contrast with the currently available standard textbooks, the texts to be found on FreeMathTexts.org
emphasize a very few, very powerful ideas on the basis of which everything finds its natural place and can then be questioned as thoroughly as the student feels without hitting a dead end,
appeal only to common sense and make no assumption of any kind about the students,
are focussed on helping the students convince themselves that statements need to be justified and their truth supported with arguments,
pay pedantic attention to matters of language wich often impede understanding.
A further discussion of these facts, and of how the texts on FreeMathTexts.org attempt to take them into consideration, can be found in Chapter Thirteen.
Two more facts govern the development of the texts on FreeMathTexts.org, namely that:
In order to be usable in mathematics classes, the texts to be found here were designed as parts of "bundles" suitable for "turnkey" classroom use in that they include the ancillaries, that is all that is needed, Homework, Classwork, Quizzes, Reviews, Review Discussions, Exams, in a form that makes it easy for the instructor to follow and assess their students' progress as well as adjust the materials to their own situation.
Mathematical exposition is no one's "intellectual property". All the materials on FreeMathTexts.org can thus be freely downloaded, used, copied, distributed and modified under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
As of this date, two titles have been completed and one is in progress. All are freely available:
"Reasonable Algebraic Functions (Terse edition)". is the version of Reasonable Algebraic Functions (337 pages instead of 577 in the previous, "verbose" edition) that is currently supported. It tries not to answer questions readers don't have ... yet. The ancillaries remain mostly those of the verbose edition but, where needed, an appropriate version of the ancillaries has been supplied. The ancillaries are usable with ADM. Printed copies of the text can be purchased from Lulu for $9.57 plus shipping*.
* I would like to acknowledge the fact that, inasmuch as I do not collect any royalties, Lulu waived its "fees" for printed copies of Reasonable Basic Algebra and Reasonable Algebraic Function which can also be freely downloaded from their site.
Reasonable Decimal Arithmetic Contrary to what I did in the past, I am making the text available for download as I rework it from previous, unsatisfactory versions. The hope is that this will entice people to get involved in its development. There are no ancillaries available at this time.
The system for managing the ancillaries itself is freely available to anyone wanting to develop their own ancillaries for these or any other texts. The system is described in an article which appeared in the PracTeX Journal on 2011-02-07. It includes the Assessment Document Maker (ADM), the graphical user interface designed by M. Sharpe which allows the user to generate the ancillaries in a variety of formats.
Another one of the very few authors of texts off the beaten path and to be taken most seriously is Herb Gross and his texts and videos are to be found
here. I should disclose the fact that Gross' treatment of Arithmetic and mine in Reasonable Decimal Arithmetic are very reminescent of each other and that, upon my discovery of his work, I wrote to him which resulted in a very pleasant exchange.
More generally, there are several sites in which free mathematical texts can be found such as Online Mathematics Textbooks, Online Science and Math Textbooks, etc. And then there is iBerry, with Open CourseWare and Higher Education Resources, which describes itself as the first academic porthole", that is as "a small but cheerful window in the side of the Higher Education ship for purposes of illumination and enlightenment.
If you are having trouble with links, downloads, ... or contents, please let me know at .