Algebra Necessary for Innovative Thinking
This post is in response to the radical idea that algebra should be omitted from the national curriculum. Okay, so there is an ~8% unemployment rate among those with advanced STEM degrees. This doesn’t necessarily mean there are too many engineers and our society can’t utilize people with these skill sets. Rather, innovation is growing at a slower rate than the number of people with STEM skill sets. Why? Not because we don’t have enough engineers or computer scientists, as the author pointed out with his unemployment figures, but because we don’t have enough people that can think mathematically. We have no shortage of people at the top end. But we need a lot more people with innovative thinking skills.
CCSS a Means to an End
Community members are calling on education officials for a plan to implement the Common Core State Standards. But what is going unrecognized is that in many classrooms, they are being implemented and have been for years and years. Some teachers not only teach everything outlined in common core, but go above and beyond these standards with their students.
Math & Art
Art is one of the best ways to visualize the beauty of math. I love imagining how to visualize abstract concepts, like “randomness”.
Math & Technology
Here I provide thoughts on the exponentially growing realm of math education technology, as well as the interconnectedness between math learning and technology advancement.
Math and Language
Math provides a way to visualize and comprehend concepts from disciplines far and wide. As such, appropriate use of language is crucial in expressing ideas from these disciplines, including mathematics. Unfortunately, students often do not see the connection between mathematics and reading/writing.
Finland, the Quadratic Formula, and Thinking Outside the Box
To grapple with the novel situations of our rapidly changing world, we need to use existing techniques and find new ones. This requires innovation, brainstorming, collaboration, and communication. Hence, this is what students must learn to do in the classroom.
Moving Forward, We Need a Consensus
Half of China’s students go into math, science, or engineering, compared to only 13% of American kids. Our students’ math and science test scores rank among the lowest of developed countries. Only a handful of people are involved in creating long-term systemic change in math education by doing research and forming policies, and many of these people have never been teachers. Researchers and entrepreneurs all have their own ideas about how to improve math education.
The Modern Role of Textbooks
Education provides students a window into the real world. If that window is dirty, foggy, scratched, or covered, students’ perspectives will reflect this for much of their lives. The role of textbooks should assist in making this window as clear as possible. Certainly, a textbook that mandates students to repeatedly practice mechanical processes will make for a heavily blotched window.
I had a very interesting chat with two math professors at Ateneo University, one of the Philippines’ most prestigious institutions. The two professors, both female, asserted that there were no gender differences in the students studying math at the university level. I asked how they manage to engage so many females. They thoughtfully responded that engaging students isn’t really a problem because math is perceived as a very prestigious subject and students want to do well at it.
Resources for teachers
This page includes ideas for classroom activities and links to other non-profits that provide excellent educational materials and professional development.