Math professor trashes K-12 math class

“The real reason why the US is falling behind in math” is a math professor’s take on “Why Johnny can’t do math.”

This is consistent with my experience as a tutor in the Cambridge Public Schools. High school students would be given about 50 identical problems on one page, each one starting with the equation of a circle with a goal of finding the center and radius. There was some sort of trick that one could use and they were better at it than I, but they struggled sometimes with arithmetic on the coefficients. I would ask them to back up and graph one of these equations so that I could understand it and they would say that they didn’t want to, didn’t know how to, etc., even though they all had graphing calculators. The goal of the school was to get the students to the point where they could crush the MCAS and some other standardized tests but the problems had nothing to do with what I would call “math” (and I was an undergrad math major before I found that I had to agree with Barbie that “math is hard [and frustrating]“).

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

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