Gresham's law in economics states, "Bad money drives good money out of circulation." An application of this law in mathematical pedagogy states that "Algorithm drives out thought." While universities are ideally places where classes are meant to develop students' independence and critical thinking skills, often mathematics courses reflect this altered version of Gresham's law. This paper demonstrates the ways traditional mathematical pedagogy has held up Gresham's law and presents several suggestions for ways to change this approach to mathematical education to focus more on critical thinking without sacrificing the necessity of algorithm.


This article was a a talk delivered at the Joint Meetings of the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society in San Antonio, Texas, January 1987.




© 1987 Sherman K. Stein