Fixing Mathematics Education

An interesting article about Mathematics Education from the New York Times came out last week. The suggestion is that we should reevaluate our focus and concern. Here is a snippet:

Today, American high schools offer a sequence of algebra, geometry, more algebra, pre-calculus and calculus (or a “reform” version in which these topics are interwoven). This has been codified by the Common Core State Standards, recently adopted by more than 40 states. This highly abstract curriculum is simply not the best way to prepare a vast majority of high school students for life.

For instance, how often do most adults encounter a situation in which they need to solve a quadratic equation? Do they need to know what constitutes a “group of transformations” or a “complex number”? Of course professional mathematicians, physicists and engineers need to know all this, but most citizens would be better served by studying how mortgages are priced, how computers are programmed and how the statistical results of a medical trial are to be understood.

I do think that getting through high school without any exposure to statistics is a problem that should be fixed, and I’m not sure why everyone is pushed toward Calculus, no matter their area of interest. Simply put, not every major needs Calculus. However, I’m convinced that everyone needs to know at least enough statistics to be educated consumers of the vast quantity of information coming at us every day. I found this article interesting. Wonder what my readers who teach math in high school feel about this. Feel free to use my comments area to voice your opinion! Would especially love to hear from our Messiah College alumni.

3 comments on “Fixing Mathematics Education

  1. This TED talk concurs …

    • I’ve seen that, and pretty much think he makes good arguments. Also, saw Art at the ACMS meetings at Westmont this summer. He didn’t talk much about this, perhaps due to the audience (mostly college professors).

  2. […] this recent post on the state of mathematics education, I was pointed to this response by Al Cuoco (HT: former guest […]

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