Using the history of mathematics for teaching mathematics is called genetic method
"The term "genetic method" (of teaching mathematics) was coined in 1927 by Otto
Toeplitz in "Das Problem der Universitaetsvorlesungen ueber Infinitesimalrechnung
und ihrer Abgrenzung gegenueber der Infinitesimalrechnung an den hoeheren
Schulen" ("The problem of calculus courses at universities and their demarcation
against calculus courses at high schools,").
Toeplitz was a well-known research mathematician, with important contributions
in the area of functional analysis. In addition, he had about 19 years experience of
teaching mathematics at universities in Germany, during which he developed and
tested the genetic method.
The reason for the development of the method was the disappointment with the
method of teaching calculus at German universities at that time which used a rigorous
axiomatic approach based on the construction of the real number system and
without motivation of abstract concepts. According to Toeplitz, in the latter way,
only 5% of the students can be reached that later become professional mathematicians.
According to Toeplitz, about 45% of good students are not reached by that
To my experience, the described problems in the mathematics education apply
not only to Germany and the US, but world-wide. The only promising remedy I
see for this situation is the use of the "genetic method" in one of its forms for the
motivation of students".
Dr Horst R Beyer:
The world is really painted by numbers, it worth out to get known !