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Math Education: A Messy Problem

Inside Higher Ed – Gizem Karaali

“Andrew Hacker’s The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions simply continues to promote the misguided path he got on several years ago, and it’s difficult to see how it could lead us anywhere productive. Hacker started the business of attacking school mathematics in a New York Times op-ed where he argued, in sync with gimmicky T-shirts claiming the same, that algebra was unnecessary, or perhaps even detrimental to our future. In a national scene where mathphobia is rampant and most people’s memories of school mathematics remain unpleasant at best, he struck a chord. Then, of course, come book contracts and even more adulation. Thoughtful people have already responded authoritatively to the various errors in Hacker’s argument — see here for another scathing review. A short and quick reply is here. For this audience of college and university educators, some of whom might be tempted by Hacker’s bravado and wonder about implications for higher education, I’d like to also point out that Hacker seems to forget why we educate our young.”(more)

How to teach … algebra

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“In algebra, X marks the spot. Well, sometimes it’s N or Y. Either way, that spot can often leave children’s heads spinning, as they find themselves face-to-face with funny-looking equations that need to be simplified. Maths doesn’t always have the most positive reputation among young people (or older people, to be fair) and algebra – with its signs, symbols and substitutions – is up there with the least beloved of it. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Presented in the right way, it can even be exciting and magical. So how can you help your students get to grips with the topic?.”(more)

Stop telling kids you’re bad at math. You are spreading math anxiety ‘like a virus.’

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss

“Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math? Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading. Our country’s communal math hatred may seem rather innocuous, but a more critical factor is at stake: we are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics and with that are priming our children for mathematical anxiety. As a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution.”(more)

Commentary: Let’s nurture science, math talent – Darren Glass

“The world is filled with stories of people from unexpected backgrounds who turn out to have hidden talents that shake the world. In the music world, this is the very premise behind television shows like American Idol, and sports is filled with superstars who grew up in poverty. When it comes to science, however, we have a much worse track record at identifying and nurturing talent across all races, genders, and socioeconomic classes, even within our own country. A recent study indicates that less than 10 percent of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) workforce in the United States identifies as either African American or Hispanic, though these two groups make up nearly 30 percent of the population. Women are only a quarter of the employees in scientific jobs in the United States.”(more)

Science, Math Education Gap Fueled by Lack of Knowledge on Career Opportunities, Survey Shows

The Business Wire – Staff Writer

“Demand for scientists and engineers has never been stronger, but many young people in the U.S. are avoiding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) because they don’t understand the opportunities, according to a new survey released today by Emerson (NYSE:EMR). The survey* revealed that 42 percent of respondents would have considered a career in STEM fields had they better understood a potential career path, and one-third of respondents didn’t pursue a STEM career because it seemed too hard. Additionally, women were significantly more likely than men to avoid a career in STEM because they were afraid they wouldn’t succeed.”(more)

2015 Nation’s Report Card Reveals Majority of High School Seniors Aren’t College Ready

Education World – Nicole Gorman

“New results from The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and Reading at Grade 12 indicate that only 37 percent of the country’s high school seniors are prepared for college level math and reading…The Washington Post calls NAEP’s latest news “sobering,” and says it raises into question whether the high school diploma is a meaningful determinant of academic achievement…Students accepted into colleges and universities but unprepared for the coursework are spending thousands of dollars to study things they should have learned in high school.”(more)