"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, May 02, 2014

Four years of math?

Sent to the Washington Post, May 2, 2014.

Maryland will now require all high school students to take four years of math ("Maryland to require math for all years of high school; universities also adjust rules," May 2).
The fourth year, moreover, must be "non-trivial," such as algebra 2, trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus, statistics and college algebra. This is in order to prevent students  from "getting rusty" and not being prepared for college.

But not all students go to college. And of those who do, few select majors that require this much math and few jobs require this much math.  Michael Handel of Northeastern University in his "Profile of US Jobs" reported that only 22% of all workers use math beyond fractions, decimals and percentages, and of those who do, most only only simple algebra.

Requiring four years of math makes about as much sense as requiring four years of Latin.

(I should point out that I love math. I took AP calculus in high school, and advanced calculus and differential equations in college. But I took these courses as electives.)

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/heading-off-the-senior-slump-maryland-schools-officials-to-require-fourth-year-of-math/2014/05/02/7458986e-c9b4-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html

Handel, M. 2010. What do people do at work? Available at www.northeastern.edu/socant/wp-content/.../STAMP_OECD2a_edit2.doc‎  See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/heres-how-little-math-americans-actually-use-at-work/275260/

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