Is Math Necessary?

This is worth reading. It’s a fact that we do NOT have a shortage of trained STEM grads, and it’s also true that very, very few people will ever use any concepts from advanced math in their work or in their day to day lives.
(As a former math teacher, I rejoice when I find a way to use relatively advanced math, eg algebra 2 or above, in the real world – which shows you that it doesn’t happen every day, even for someone who’s actively looking for it.)
So why do we require every single HS grad to master whatever the current Algebra 2 curriculum consists of?
via Mike Simpson  (remove)
In his new book The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions, political scientist Andrew Hacker proposes replacing algebra II and calculus in the high schoo …
Published in: on March 3, 2016 at 3:33 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. I think statistics could be much more valuable for many people that calculus or algebra 2. But Hacker makes the argument in part by saying 57% flunked algebra 2, and (only) 44% flunked statistics. 44% is still a lot.
    Might it be useful to consider whether there are better ways to teach the subject – whether it’s algebra 2 or statistics?
    Again thanks for sharing.


  2. Sadly, the one part of Hacker’s screed that I consider true is the low quality of math instruction. Having spent a lifetime teaching math and later working with math teachers – my first class was in 1948 and I am teaching this semester – I remain appalled at the quality of what passes for the classroom teaching of this subject. And sadly, that experience suggests that the quality goes down in direct correlation with the grade taught from junior high school on through graduate school. Visit an English or history classroom and you will often find vigorous participation. Walk down the hall to a school math class and you will find 20-30 minutes reviewing the answers to the previous homework assignment followed by a brief lecture on new material usually presented as an exact duplicate of what is in the students’ text. Even the same examples. Then a quick homework assignment and dismissal. In college you only get the last half of that punishment. So no wonder hackers like Hacker can get away with books that say math should be bowdlerized.

    Well taught, math – yes, including algebra 2 – can be a wonderful experience that provides insights into what makes the world work. This is not to discount the stat course Hacker proposes, but it too can be killed by poor instruction.


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