Responding to Kirby Urner's post of Oct 12, 2012 8:52 PM and Paul A. Tanner III's post of Oct 13, 2012 12:01 AM:
I believe (from my situation in India at least 8000-odd miles away), that this is probably the whole point at issue. Given the fact that *effective education* is probably the very best practical tool we have of moving forward on complex issues (given also that we humans are ostensibly the dominant species on earth), we really should be thinking of questions like:
-- "How could our teachers teach more effectively?" -- "How could our students learn more effectively?"
When we get to seriously asking such questions - and get to equally seriously attempting to answer such questions - we ***may*** get somewhere. (***i.e., no guarantees, given our record of screwing things up - though I am very hopeful indeed, seeing much evidence I have before me of how very seriously the coming generations are in trying set a few things right).
But effective education is the key (on a whole variety of fronts - very much including math [though the math to be learned in the future is likely to be very different from what we ourselves understand as math! - as Kirby has been pointing out quite often; it may well be different in ways that he may not have anticipated).
Some education issues in question are likely to be (apart from the two I mentioned earlier):
-- "How can we learn to understand the whole wonderful inter-connected web of nature?"
-- "How can we humans learn to live more responsibly on this planet (within above-noted web) than we've been doing since the Industrial Revolution?"
-- "How can we learn not to over-exploit our resources (and yet provide our people in various nations around the globe with adequate living resources)?"
...and so on and so forth...
Once again, I draw attention to some useful tools that could help significantly - see my post at the thread "On realistic and practical tools for the US education system..." (the right title might be "On... for any educational system"), http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2405705 . Attached herewith a PowerPoint presentation on some 'Useful Missions'.