
Re: Why do so many of us hate math?
Posted:
Jul 6, 2014 11:48 AM


On Jul 5, 2014, at 10:36 AM, Joe Niederberger <niederberger@comcast.net> wrote:
> We've had various testimonial from people who say things like "I thought I was doing OK in math and then I realized that I didn't really understand XYZ?" > > That's the kind of thing that comes from training that is lacking in wholeness.
What I am seeing at work are candidates who thought they were interested in STEM show up without the trademark abilities of someone interested in STEM. Have you been near IT, CS or Engineering since you retired? You know there are mostly not american students there now, right? It looks exactly like someone showing up interested in a job playing the piano but can?t actually play it.
I attribute that to all of the things done to the mathematics curriculum in the last 3040 years intended to?
A. Make mathematics more interesting. B. Make mathematics more accessible.
The result of this has been that the american STEM student is on the endangered list and closing in fast on extinction.
Am I being too harsh on your premise? Not if you consider that I am looking at curriculums that are lacking 90% of the 75% and when you trace that back to the point of origin, it is always due to A or B or both. And now you propose that music education needs a *fix* as well? I didn?t know that there was a shortage of trained musicians in this country, talented or otherwise. Doesn?t seem to be. I am not even sure why we are having a discussion about *fixing* music education. First, because it is news to me that it was broken. Second, because look what happened when we *fixed* math education.
Maybe too much intellectualism and not enough pragmatism or realism? Can I inject that entirely honest thought here without upsetting you?
Just to be clear, my 75/25 rule isn?t meant to be interpreted as a way to garner inherent interest. It is about how to teach mathematics to students who have an inherent or almost inherent interest in it. My point WAS to make math WHOLE again and for the curriculum to reflect a legitimate inherent interest. And nothing precludes any student from trying to follow along, maybe with extra help outside of class, so that they might find that inherent interest. Argh, and it aren?t a rule, it?s more like guidelines. There is latitude in the 25%, not so much in the 75%, other than how fast some students get through it.
I provided 6 years (7 counting kindergarten) of arithmetic aimed at all students, not strictly mathematical, but also not (as Lou implies) strictly unmathematical. The focus is arithmetic like the focus in reading is reading, but the scenarios do get progressively more sophisticated, as the passages do in reading, as the pieces do in music. In that regard, we are heading towards algebra because we are developing the ability to work with material worthy of algebra, but we aren?t yet teaching algebra. And towards the end some students are going to start losing interest.
Years 7 and 8 are a compromise to continue development in both the professional track and the STEM track. Instead of year 7 being pre algebra and year 8 being algebra, both years are pre algebra, but with a mix of application, formulas and basic algebra. Some might think that this would be lame for an algebra student, but when I say ?application? I am not talking about discovery in groups. I am talking real business math and moderately sophisticated spreadsheets, and all of the prealgebra topics. Any student so inclined can take algebra in the 8th or even 7th grade, but the majority, who eventually take it, will take it in the 9th grade. There is a lot of useful stuff in my compromise and there is enough mathy stuff to hold the student till Algebra in 9th grade.
After year 8, there are 3 paths, vocational, professional and STEM. This is where you find what we call Algebra, Geometry, etc, in the STEM path. And any student can take algebra or any math class if they desire and are up to it.
Bob Hansen

