måndag 6 augusti 2012

School Mathematics Mandatory?

Andrew Hacker, emeritus professor of political science at Queen's College, City University of NY, asks in a recent article in NYT Is Algebra Necessary? and answers, NO:
  • American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t. 
  • This debate matters. Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent. In the interest of maintaining rigor, we’re actually depleting our pool of brainpower. I say this as a writer and social scientist whose work relies heavily on the use of numbers. My aim is not to spare students from a difficult subject, but to call attention to the real problems we are causing by misdirecting precious resources.
Hacker's reasoning connects closely to my own expressed on this blog and in my work to develop a mathematics education for todays society.

In short, mandatory mathematics for everybody should be reduced in order to decrease human suffering and to open the possibility for interested students to develop their skills, just like in subjects like music, arts and sports.

Forcing everybody through a 9 year curriculum of Czerny piano etudes, will cause frustration for many and prevent even the few to advance further.

Even Le Monde asks the same question in  CALCUL MENTAL – Faut-il arrêter d’enseigner les maths à l’école ? 

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