The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Re: The Prime Directive
Replies: 11   Last Post: Oct 3, 2012 12:30 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Paul A. Tanner III

Posts: 5,920
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: The Prime Directive
Posted: Oct 3, 2012 11:38 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

On Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 4:26 AM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:
> On Oct 2, 2012, at 10:36 PM, Paul Tanner <> wrote:
> You talked about scores of 13 year old and 15 year old kids on general
> math tests as if it's relevant to whether the US is graduating enough
> people OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL each year trained in math well enough to
> major in a STEM major if they CHOOSE to.
> I am sticking to the issue.

No, you are not. See the below.

> Graduating enough students to major in a stem field in our colleges is not
> the point.

It is the point according to the study Haim cited and every other study like that you could cite. None of those studies are saying that we have armies of stupid STEM graduates who can't find work in STEM fields because they are too stupid. These studies all say that the US is not graduating enough STEM majors, period, since they all point to the fact that the unemployment rate among STEM degreed people has been lower than it is for the general population for a while now.

I am simply pointing out that they are wrong to blame math education in the k12 US public school system for this shortage of *college* STEM graduates, since there are more than enough people who come out of high school with enough math training to major in STEM majors if they want to.

I am just pointing out that they simply do not want to, since they are smart enough to realize that they have a better chance of making more money by being your boss rather than making less money by having you be their boss, since they see people not so good at math doing this.

My former fireman brother is a perfect example of what I mean. He graduated out of high school in the 1980s while never having taken even just Algebra I - his math skills are quite low, and so he avoided math as much as he could. After 10 years as a firefighter, he went to school online at the University of Phoenix, getting a "computer-based"
or "information-science" business degree that "qualified" him to go straight into management at so many of these tech companies, where he is now the boss the computer science majors, making more money than them. He took only one math course to get that degree, college algebra, and it shocked me to see that it was essentially just Algebra
I level math - I know since I tutored him. And he cannot write computer programs. He just has those "point and click" skills that they teach at these "information science" parts of the business schools.

The reason you cannot get people who you think are qualified is because so many of all those people who would be qualified in your eyes chose to major in something else rather than a STEM major - they see people like my brother with his low math skills making more money than the STEM majors by being the boss of these STEM majors. The rest, if they are qualified to work for you, probably are not interested in your company in particular or the type of job you are trying to get people to do.

Think: What smart kid with great math skills wants to slave away in some cubicle for the rest of his life at relatively lower pay, when he could make more money doing something like what my brother does or something else as well?

Again: It's all about where the money is, and with it being ever more clear to ever more smart kids with good math skills, going to college to end up working at the type job you oversee is not where the money is, and so of course you are going to see less and less of them.

Final note: All these other countries sending al these "more qualified" people do not have large sets of opportunities in their countries' higher education system with respect to these types of business degrees, where people of low math skills are managers of the those that do have high math skills, and so the smarter kids there are still majoring in the STEM majors to get ahead economically. But that will change if those countries make much more of these types of business degrees available to their citizens, copying the US model of having a very large private and public higher education industry where these types of business degrees are so plentiful, anyone can get one. (Again: It's all about the money - follow the money.)

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.