"Why Americans Stink at Math" . . (way OT)

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 21 - 40 of total 291 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
The Call Of K2 Lou

Mountain climber
North Shore, BC
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:07am PT
I want one of those wingdings calculators at the top of the article. "What's cat plus basketball times rocket ship?"

I like the idea of teachers watching each other teach, then providing feedback to each other.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:12am PT
And whatever happened to that oriental finger math that was going to allow us all to be human calculators?
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:29am PT
I was answering sarcastically about the problem being TV's...

I talk about getting rid of Tenure and truly do believe that it needs to go...

But the problems do not start and stop there...

There is more to it and it's not that simple...


I know locker,
BTW, my 15 yr. tenure and teachers union didn't save my job when the economy tanked and the schools enrollment dropped to an all time low.
Last hired, first fired, we lost 4.
I have been sub teaching since (7yrs.) and really enjoy it, stress level has gone way down and I have more time to hang at the Taco Stand with clowns like you. ;-)
Teaching, like any profession has the good, the bad and the ugly.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:29am PT
.
neebee, It is interesting hearing how your mind works.... When you boil it down>> not everybody learns the same way, and all schools need to address that issue.

That is why i love the Kahn Academy and their method of teaching.. If you have a child struggling with math, please view the Kahn Academy videos....

I told a girlfriend about the Kahn Academy, and her child went from failing math to understanding math and getting much better grades..

Start the video at 1:40...
http://www.khanacademy.org/talks-and-interviews/key-media-pieces/v/salman-khan-talk-at-ted-2011--from-ted-com

wbw, The 4 points you highlighted ... are definitely key to teaching any subject.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:36am PT
So I studied mathematics in graduate school, taught while a graduate student (taught my own classes NOT a TA), briefly ran a small tutoring franchise, and even had a summer gig one year teaching "gifted and telented" 6th graders. From all this experience I've concluded that the problem lies with all the B.S math ed reform and all the culturial crap.

1 + 1 = 2 (base 10) no matter what color, creed, religion, etc you are.

No litte Johney shouldn't get partial credit if his attempts at a solution were not headied in a direction that would solve the problem.

I routinely had freshman algebra students that could not ad 1/2 + 1/4 without a calculator. The education system failed them. How did they graduate High School??? Never mind -1 -2 = ? or what is 1/0 =. The k-12 system fails....

On a more comical note, at a good second tier university with a respected mathematics dept. the mathematicians strongly disliked the math ed peeps. Infact the topologists would routingly vote for the weakest new prof hires when they were math ed types because they (and the rest of us) wanted the math ed dept to wither (remember they think that little johney should get credit and that religion and culture matter wrt (with respect to) 1 + 1 = 2).
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:42am PT
I aced math. It is just the language of quantity.

I enjoy going to the deli counter at supermarkets and asking for 5 ounces of something only to see the employee's brain vapor lock as he (she) looks at the digital scale.

I tell them, "Remember back in the fifth grade when they said that you are going to need this stuff in real life? Well guess what? They were right."
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:43am PT
It's interesting that such a complex question: how to effectively teach mathematics, devolves so quickly to overly simplistic explanations.

First, there is no agreement as to what the math curriculum should be. Let's take a radical stance, that we require children to be educated because our democracy requires "an informed public." While understanding Andrew Wiles proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, would be a marvelous cultural objective, it isn't directly applicable to those issues on which the public votes.

Yet just being able to do various arithmetic calculations is not sufficient, either. Yet even this is a challenge for some students.

More and more, the public has been involved in trying to understand the nature of quantitative information based on statistical arguments. People playing the state sponsored lottery might want to better understand the odds of winning, vs. using those dollars for some other investment. The efficacy of medical procedures, or cures, or alternative medicines. The likelihood of floods, or other weather events, and on and on...

While many mathematicians might argue whether or not statistics should be included in mathematics, few people would see statistics as anything other than mathematics. So having an educated voting public capable of actually understanding statistical arguments might be a worthy goal of public education.

Yet that would be a daunting task, some would say "impossible." And in the current political climate it would be impossible, however worthy. To accomplish it would require a huge investment in remaking the mathematics curriculum, way beyond what most of the public believe would be necessary.

As wbw also observes, ideally it would require teachers who thoroughly understand the math in order to be successful teachers. It is a generally held belief that anyone who possess such skills would do better, financially, doing something other than teaching.

Teachers as a class have always been disparaged in American society, "those who can't, teach." They are a very low paid profession, and the best teachers often find work elsewhere. For a long time teaching was a profession relegated to women, whose effort was greatly undervalued. Often we hear the statement that teaching is "a calling" to justify the low compensation, yet as a society we have not made a commitment to those taking the calling. Tenure provided job security to those who "answered the call" yet that system is now seen as a root cause for poor teachers.

Obviously, if we valued teachers we'd put our money where our collective mouths are and pay them a competitive wage, yet there are all sorts of forces aligned against letting "the market" set teacher compensation. This is most obvious in the pseudo-outrage over increasing college and university costs, and the increases in faculty salaries, which are market driven. Why not let it happen? Somehow collective activity is "evil" but limiting the compensation is ok (but we would never do that for corporate CEO's).

If you want the best to be teachers, you're going to have to compete with the private sector to attract those people. If you think giving education to the private sector will improve things without seeing increased costs, and probably unsatisfactory outcomes, you're delusional.



Americans are historically "practical" people, where practical has to do with commercial success. Education doesn't mean much to Americans as a whole except when education makes the students more successful, commercially. This is driving the American curriculum to be more a certification process for the private sector than what we'd traditionally refer to as a liberal education: "a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement ... characterised by challenging encounters with important issues, and more a way of studying than a specific course or field of study"

This definition would be anathema in the current political setting.

What the current argument revolves around is just what are the "specific course or field of study" that is required to provide the best advantage to a student's economic prospects.

Why Americans stink at math is because they don't see how math helps those personal economic prospects.

When the second order Taylor series expansion of the coupled time dependent return on investment is viewed as such a complicated and obscure bit of knowledge that it can be used in defense of the financial professions being "duped" by a bunch of physicists and cause international economic calamity, one can only sigh in disbelief of the denial of the importance to understand mathematics, even if it doesn't effect you bottom line directly.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:50am PT
I sucked at math K thru 12. I was lazy and some how thought the math would come to me just by looking at the book. It wasn't until I started working the problems over and over that I began to do well with it in college. I think it had in my case far more to do with a work ethic than teachers not doing their job. I was lazy and would rather goof off and be an idiot than sitting down and working math problems.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:53am PT
I routinely had freshman algebra students that could not ad 1/2 + 1/4 without a calculator.


I don't know how to do that with a calculator.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:55am PT
As a math student, I found that the most important part of studying was just doing the problem sets.

A thought I have had that would increase the appeal of math is to show how powerful it is in solving conceptually difficult problems. I remember when I was first introduced to algebra and the idea of operating on an unknown value through the use of equations. This seemed extremely cool.
kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
Jul 24, 2014 - 11:55am PT
Obviously, if we valued teachers we'd put our money where our collective mouths are and pay them a competitive wage, yet there are all sorts of forces aligned against letting "the market" set teacher compensation. This is most obvious in the pseudo-outrage over increasing college and university costs, and the increases in faculty salaries, which are market driven. Why not let it happen? Somehow collective activity is "evil" but limiting the compensation is ok (but we would never do that for corporate CEO's).

If you want the best to be teachers, you're going to have to compete with the private sector to attract those people. If you think giving education to the private sector will improve things without seeing increased costs, and probably unsatisfactory outcomes, you're delusional.

Hard to disagree with this. I'd much rather have someone with an MS or a PhD in a science who's education was focused on the science as a teacher but it doesn't pay! Then (in California) there's the CA single subject credential requirment for teaching HS mathematics hoop (replace "mathematics" with science of your choice).

If teaching actually paid well and there weren't the hoops I probably would have followed that path post grad school.
drunkenmaster

Social climber
santa rosa
Jul 24, 2014 - 12:02pm PT
i agree pay the teachers more. but no, its ceo's and some lawyers, doctors, realtors and politicians that make the fortunes.

i just read that american fast food eaters (already says something there) chose a 1/4 pound burger over a 1/3 pound burger at the same price because they thought 4 was bigger than 3 :-/ seriously.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jul 24, 2014 - 12:07pm PT
If you have a child struggling with math, please view the Kahn Academy videos....
Word! Thanks Nita.
Some of us recommended this for Whitemeat a few months back when he was struggling in math. He reported back that it helped him understand the concepts he was struggling with.

Off to the dentist for me,
Tad
JonA

Trad climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 24, 2014 - 12:09pm PT
There are 3 types of people in this world. Those who are good at math and those who aren't.
jammer

climber
Jul 24, 2014 - 12:10pm PT
It's the teachers' unions.


....which protect teachers from financial political influence. Seriously. They also make it harder to get rid of shitty teachers, but the fact that they are what largely protects academic freedom among teachers makes them an overall bonus in my book. I'll take a few shitty teachers over enfranchising educational institutions to be able to say "if you don't like teaching the curriculum (handed down to us from god knows where as opposed to a gathering of teachers who all brainstormed at the latest national teachers union meeting), we will hire someone else." It's all about the core lessons which are taught and who gets to determine which lessons get taught. Should it be some "committee" of "educators" somewhere, or all the teachers who actually do the job? Seems like there is one obvious choice there for me.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Jul 24, 2014 - 01:08pm PT
The key to any learning is desire. How do you make it real and how do you make it possible?

Teachers who really understand the subject and really understand their students learning and social skills can readily prepare the vast majority of kids tfor real life math applications. Two trains travleing towards each other - no one cares. However, a real life lesson like here are your credit balances, interest rates, and minimum amount due, how should you prioritize your payments and how long will it take to be out of debt - those are far more real life problems that kids need to solve. My former A student in Math needed Mom to show her that she could dig out of debt with a better prioritization, and bankruptcy was not necessary.

I would not be a fan of the group grope for understanding. I was a shy and awkward kid who would have HATED math if it was a group guided discovery. I was also not a fan of memorization, though I will admit that it was terribly efficient not to be actively computing 12x12 every time.. In my mind, nothing replaces true understanding. That needs to start with the teacher.

Always hated the gross generalizations - Why Americans stink at math......I am American, and I am great at math. That is inaccurate characterization of an array. Much better stated as "Why many Anericans stink at math", "Why the mean mathemeatical literacy of Americans is lower than other countries".......
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 24, 2014 - 01:39pm PT
...can readily prepare the vast majority of kids tfor real life math applications.

what is "real life math applications"? those examples you provided are interesting, but not the end of "real life" applications. In fact, "application" is a very interesting word, it implies that something is being applied, in this case, mathematics, which by the same implication is not "applied" but "pure."

So without learning mathematics, you don't have anything to apply.

You could just teach those specific lessons, and have the students use those lessons by rote, to the specific "real life applications" but you can't anticipate all the different application.

However, teaching students how to apply the same mathematics to different applications would seem to be a goal. If you can't see debt rates and trains as applications of constant rate coupled equations to be solved algebraically, then you've missed the point.

It is easy to disparage word problems, but the idea of the word problem is to learn how to analyze the problem and set it up to be solved. Once you learn how to do that, you can apply it to trains, and to debt, or any other such problem, or the issues related to the national budget and the assumptions going into the arguments over default...

kev

climber
A pile of dirt.
Jul 24, 2014 - 01:48pm PT
Teachers who really understand the subject and really understand their students learning and social skills can readily prepare the vast majority of kids tfor real life math applications. Two trains travleing towards each other - no one cares.

College freshman relate much better to a (albiet fictitious) drinking/exponential decay/DUI word problem than the traditional half life problem.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
Jul 24, 2014 - 01:52pm PT
The amount of money that Americans "invest" into lottery tickets is proof that Americans stink at math.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jul 24, 2014 - 01:57pm PT
I think it had in my case far more to do with a work ethic than teachers not doing their job. I was lazy and would rather goof off and be an idiot than sitting down and working math problems.

Thanks for the honesty Charlie D.!
Messages 21 - 40 of total 291 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews