If you read about math and enjoy the internet, chances are you saw this op-ed in the New York Times over the weekend. The piece, titled “Is Algebra Necessary?,” argues that math requirements, algebra in particular, are prohibitively difficult for many people, and may be contributing to high school and college dropout rates. Instead of imposing an algebra restriction, author Andrew Hacker suggests restructuring the curriculum around “citizen statistics” and “quantitative reasoning.” Despite the jargon-y names, he insists courses like this could be developed without sacrificing rigor or dumbing down the curriculum.
As might be expected, the piece has furrowed quite a few brows. A few friends have asked me for my opinion, but I’m a little late to the game, and there are a number of people who have expressed my views in their own words quite well. I’ll briefly add my own to cents, peppered with links throughout.
. . . → Read More: Asking the right questions
Late last month there was apparently a bit of a ruckus over whether or not California should adopt new national education standards as part of a competition among the states dubbed “Race to the Top.”
Although Race to the Top (the brain child of education secretary Arne Duncan) hasn’t received much media attention, it was one of the many byproducts of last year’s economic stimulus act. Recently, though, it’s been the subject of more discussion – a relatively detailed article on the program was published over the weekend, for example.
For Californians (and residents of other states, I’m sure), participation in Race to the Top has been met with some controversy. The latest debate, as I mentioned above, has been about education standards. Race to the Top comes with its own set of national education standards, and adopting those standards helps a state’s odds of winning some federal education funding. . . . → Read More: Race to Where?
Last year, Professor Steven Strogatz of Cornell University wrote a series of op-eds for the New York Times that discussed the presence of mathematics in unlikely places. I discussed one of these columns here. Now, either those articles were well-received, or Professor Strogatz is well-connected, because this year he’s back in the Times with a much more ambitious series of articles. This time around, Strogatz is attempting to “[write] about the elements of mathematics, from preschool to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject.”
Preschool to grad school is a significant amount of ground to cover, but thus far Strogatz has used his articles to assault this goal with gusto. To date, he has tackled counting, patterns in addition, negative numbers, division, and basic high school algebra. This doesn’t really do justice to his content, though. Along the way he . . . → Read More: Math in the News(paper)