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(The New York Times)   The problem with American schools is that they teach too much math   (nytimes.com) divider line 573
    More: Stupid, Americans, Appalachian State University, Advanced Placement, university system, City University London, trigonometry, School of Medicine, high schools  
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18709 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:44 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-30 05:43:07 PM

pushpinder: Christ, did a cow crap in here? Figures the article would come from a liberal arts major. Know what, take David Copperfield and shove it up your bung hole! If you can't learn a concept that is a few hundred years old, you're an idiot. Math, at its core, is about problem solving whether it is useful for you in life or not, it builds cognitive skills in looking at a problem, breaking it down and finding a solution. It trains the brain to solve problems. Painting happy trees every day will not help you tackle problems you might encounter in the workplace (though they will make your cubicle friendlier).


This ^^
 
2012-07-30 05:43:30 PM
The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.
 
2012-07-30 05:45:34 PM

DarwiOdrade: [www.anonymouspundit.com image 400x535]


The problem here is that a square root of a positive number is both the positive and the negative value. So woman = +/- problem.

She's exists as either the problem or the solution, and you don't know which until you check.

That's probably a more profound truth than the original post.

\Once diagrammed Romeo and Juliet in terms of Lorenz Strange Attractors.
\\They were always doomed.
 
TWX
2012-07-30 05:45:56 PM
Almost every well-paying long-term career requires both the ability to write and the ability to deal with numbers.

If one can't write, one can't document, can't deal with contracts, can't defend one's work if someone accuses that the work is sub-par. If one can't even read well, then performing basic tasks will be difficult.

If one can't do numbers, one can't calculate costs, can't try out different models for paying workers (hourly/billable-hourly/salaried/contract), can't estimate supplies, or follow technical documents. This even applies to the trades, like plumbing, electrical, and certainly to electronics and low voltage. It OBVIOUSLY applies to engineering and manufacturing.

Those who do badly at math or at writing will find themselves working for someone else, or will find someone else getting the better-paying job who can understand the job. That is literally it.

My job doesn't require a college degree, but I have to deal with numbers and with instructions daily. There are others who I know who would like to be in this field, but they really never will make it unless they're just doing the grunt portion of the job, which pays less.
 
2012-07-30 05:45:57 PM
Well, hell, if we teach these kids algebra, they're going to think they're too good to take all them field jobs after we run all the illegals out!

Republicans 2012! They'll make sure you're in a low-paying job and make sure you pay more taxes!
 
2012-07-30 05:46:34 PM
The description of the author of the article says it all:

"Andrew Hacker is an emeritus professor of political science"

I rest my case!!!
 
2012-07-30 05:46:43 PM

bighairyguy: FloydA: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

$4.71

BZZZZT! Incorrect! The correct answer in the liberal agenda education system is: MEAT IS MURDER!!!



Shows what you know. The answer "Meat is Murder" goes with the question "What was the second album by English alt/rock band The Smiths?" It's not even a math question!
 
2012-07-30 05:47:54 PM
FTFA: "A January 2012 analysis from the Georgetown center found 7.5 percent unemployment for engineering graduates and 8.2 percent among computer scientists."

So what's the unemployment rate among actors?
 
2012-07-30 05:48:05 PM
i134.photobucket.com
 
2012-07-30 05:49:12 PM

FloydA: bighairyguy: FloydA: Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

$4.71

BZZZZT! Incorrect! The correct answer in the liberal agenda education system is: MEAT IS MURDER!!!


Shows what you know. The answer "Meat is Murder" goes with the question "What was the second album by English alt/rock band The Smiths?" It's not even a math question!


If meat = murder, then murder = delicious.
 
2012-07-30 05:49:29 PM

ElLoco: At what point will brake application result in insufficient reduction of momentum to avoid collision requiring you to calculate the proper trajectory and starting velocity in which to disembark the train with statistically the least likely result being farked up beyond all recognition?


Easy!
It's too late when one choo-choo hits the other choo-choo!
Duh!

/on a side note, tiring to learn linear algebra on your own produces headaches
//my head hurts
 
2012-07-30 05:49:40 PM

caramba421: The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.


What an incredibly short-sighted and uninformed thing to say.
 
2012-07-30 05:51:17 PM

buckler: caramba421: The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.

What an incredibly short-sighted and uninformed thing to say.


(and yes, I know I was being trolled then. If I were the type to include smiley-emoticons, I'd probably put one here.)
 
2012-07-30 05:51:34 PM

red5ish: umad: I had to take college bound English before I went to college to major in Engineering. You can take a little bit of math, cupcake. It won't kill you.

Taking statistics would be much more useful for non-STEM students throughout their lives. Pre-calc is a waste of time if you are not going to learn calculus. Taking a college bound English course before majoring in Engineering seems useful. I've met a lot of engineers who couldn't write coherent instructions and some who bragged about never reading, even in college.
The point is not to avoid math, but to teach useful math skills, which means calculus for some and statistics for others.


True, precalc & college algebra are not particularly useful for the general population, but basic & intermediate algebra (aka Algebra I and II) are pretty useful for just about everyone.
 
2012-07-30 05:51:40 PM
Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.

But why learn even the basics of the language of all creation when you could just pound out a degree in political science and get paid to expand stupid questions in the New York Times into a thousand word screed against basic competency, right?
 
2012-07-30 05:52:34 PM
How much does your IP attorney use calculus, or does s/he just charge you $800/hour and call it good?
 
2012-07-30 05:52:49 PM

wingedkat: downstairs: As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

Yeah, they do teach algebra abysmally in most places. After all, the understanding of when to apply basic division is something generally gained by learning algebra (or should be, at least).

I think two big changes need to be made:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.


To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.

At a certain point you need PhDs and PostDocs teaching concepts but maybe not to anyone lower than a Masters. There's a reason we have an entire curriculum devoted to Elementary Ed.
 
2012-07-30 05:53:18 PM
So, I've scanned the thread and come up with two additional reasons that this is a horrible idea that people have not touched on yet:

1. First, even if you don't use a discipline regularly, and even if you forget a lot of it, that fact that you were once familiar with it gives you a huge advantage if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to use it to solve a problem. Ask any engineer: Most days he won't go around applying Green's theorem to a closed curve or evaluating optical transmission matrices with in materials with anisotropic complex-valued permittivity, but the fact that he studied how to do it at some point means that if he ever finds himself confronted with a similar problem, he at least has a starting point for how to approach the problem. He may not remember exactly what to do, but at the very least, he can remember that he has a textbook somewhere with a chapter dealing with this very thing.

Having studied algebra at some point just might mean the difference between thinking "Hey, I could solve this if I looked up the quadratic formula" and "Huh, I have no idea what to do here, it must not be that important."

2. The more important reason that eliminating the algebra requirement is dumb, though, is that high school is supposed to provide a broad education, in part because most high-schoolers haven't specialized yet. They haven't been exposed to enough different fields to really decide what they even want to do yet. An important part of high school is to introduce kids to enough of a variety of subjects that they can intelligently pick which ones they'd want to focus on - sometimes forcing a kid to take a year of algebra or a year of world history or a year of english lit can expose him to ideas that he might wind up liking. I understand that not everyone is college-track, and that's fine, but I am horrified at the trend of allowing kids to deprive themselves of future choices earlier and earlier, and with less and less knowledge about what they're even choosing not to do.
 
2012-07-30 05:53:22 PM

doyner: FTFA: "A January 2012 analysis from the Georgetown center found 7.5 percent unemployment for engineering graduates and 8.2 percent among computer scientists."

So what's the unemployment rate among actors?


Saw this in an article, sums it up pretty nicely.



A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.
 
2012-07-30 05:53:26 PM

This text is now purple: She's exists as either the problem or the solution, and you don't know which until you check.


So the solution to the question can be found by putting her in a box with a vile of cyanide?

I like it!
 
2012-07-30 05:54:00 PM

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.


By the time I reached high school, Carl Sagan had convinced me that what I really wanted to be was a cosmologist. However, I found that I just didn't have the chops for math, so instead of doing science, I ended up interpreting science for others. I found I was good at that, and enjoyed it immensely.
 
2012-07-30 05:54:47 PM
Math is a fundamental aspect of life. I would argue that it's absolutely required for critical thinking and long term success.

The problem is how it's taught. The teachers are either complete morons that don't even really want to do math themselves or they're so focused on the subject that they're no good at teaching it to normal people. The issue runs very deep, the education system itself failed to educate the educators properly.
 
2012-07-30 05:55:36 PM

wingedkat: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Wait. How exactly do you propose to teach statistics without algebra?


Yeah, I'd be all for teaching basic statistics in high school, if only you didn't need to understand what "N" means.
 
2012-07-30 05:56:50 PM

This text is now purple: The problem here is that a square root of a positive number is both the positive and the negative value. So woman = +/- problem.


No. Commute that to

problem = (+/-) woman

Woman, can't live with em, can't live without em
 
2012-07-30 05:57:27 PM
When people talk about algebra, they usually mean polynomials or something like "find the dimension of a rectangle whose length is 9 less than twice its width if the perimeter is 120 cm."

Math is about identifying and understanding patterns. That you can use the same variable for length and width is important. That you can take information that initially looks unrelated and solve a problem is important.

Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?

Probably, yes. I'd argue that that's more of a sociology or political science class than a math class, if you're focusing on interpreting numbers or defining terms.

NO. Statistics is about drawing conclusions based on the distribution of points. Recognizing the function that governs the distribution and thus defines what properties we can expect from the points.
mean X = (1/n) Sum(X) is algebra
standard dev X= (1/n-1)Sum(X-meanX) is algebra
Don't argue with me that this is high level statistics as mean and standard deviation is very very basic stuff, and putting one formula into another is introduced in college algebra.

I would defend my statement, but Baba Waba did a pretty good job of that. I could have used different terminology, but I still stand by my statement, most people do not use algebra in everyday lives. Answering for x in the above example is basic elementary word problems. Most people can figure that out, it's applied mathematics. But algebraic concepts like quadratic equations? Not used.

What world do you live in that everything is related linearly? You have space and velocity but no acceleration?

I think there might be some value to introducing them earlier, mostly because the students will be introduced to calculators and computers at an early age regardless of how the school approaches it. There's no harm in showing students how use tools properly.

I tutored a home schooled girl who's mother let her use a calculator. She could not progress past 5th grade level because she could not recognize the patterns numbers make. She could not identify 36 as a square or tell me the roots of 12 because she'd always used a calculator.

The problem is with convincing kids that mad mathz skillz are important- you've got to remember, these are little idiots with - as a matter of course - no properly developed concept of what the future holds for them. In more traditional societies and in the developing world, it's easy: The motivation is "because your parents want you to" or "because learning as much as you can will get you out of this place". In the US and elsewhere in the West, it's harder: You have to convince them that they will need these skills in the future.

When I was asked "when am I ever going to use this?" by a student, I'd answer "I don't know, Tell me exactly what your future holds and I'll only teach the math that you need. Math, Logic and Pattern Recognition are powerful tools, Since you don't know what your future holds, don't you think you should get as many tools as possible?"

no you dont. there are no scientists that cant write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that like learning will do so no matter what. It is not a university's job to "round me" it is their job to provide specialized high tech training with resources I cant find elsewhere. I can buy lit books and biographies on my own thanks.

You are thinking of trade school/apprenticeships. Universities ARE supposed to round you. While I'll concede that there are scientists who can't write, there are few if any SUCCESSFUL scientist that can't write. If the reader can't figure out what you are saying, your papers will not be published and your proposals will not be funded. It doesn't matter how brilliant you are if it can not be communicated, and it doesn't matter who well you can diagram a sentence if you have nothing to say. The rounding done at universities allows people to communicate with others not directly in their field. Cross disciplinary work leads to new insights in both fields. I can give you references (from the field of information management) if you like.
 
2012-07-30 05:57:41 PM

buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.


There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.
 
2012-07-30 05:57:58 PM

Gyrfalcon: if only you didn't need to understand what "N" means.

n
 
2012-07-30 05:59:43 PM

Gyrfalcon: Yeah, I'd be all for teaching basic statistics in high school, if only you didn't need to understand what "N" means.


Duh... neutral. It's right next to the R.
 
2012-07-30 06:01:27 PM

Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.


Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.
 
2012-07-30 06:01:42 PM

ElLoco: It's right next to the R.


Does that mean on the other side of N is "D"?

/This analogy actually works quite well :-)
 
2012-07-30 06:02:17 PM

Nilatir: To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.


That's the problem. You expect your teacher to "explain" something that is fundamentally visually based.

These expectations are really YOUR issue and not an issue with your teachers.

Blame the teacher if you can't persuade them to give you the grade that you want.
 
2012-07-30 06:02:39 PM
i regret not being proficient with numbers. it has cost me greatly in life, in both dollars and hobbies like music.

/a million Brazilian dollars
 
2012-07-30 06:02:42 PM
Emphasis should be on understanding concepts and building critical thinking skills. I loved algebra, hell I even liked calculus, but long division is the most mindless thing I ever had the learn. Making a 10 year old do that shiat on paper dozens of times is farking stupid. What does 105788937 divided by 137 equal? It equals go fark yourself.
 
2012-07-30 06:02:42 PM

buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.


Math doesn't have "creative" answers, dear. Math is. You can be as "creative" as you want, but 2+2 must ALWAYS equal 4. And in an equation where 2 + x = 4, solve for x, the answer better not be, "Well, if you consider that 2 is a relative number, depending on whether you're talking about two people having sex and one of their partners is in the closet spying on them, it could really be three, so my answer is three."

The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.
 
2012-07-30 06:03:04 PM

red5ish: How much does your IP attorney use calculus, or does s/he just charge you $800/hour and call it good?


Part of being a successful attorney is having a well-rounded education. Part of having a well-rounded education includes taking classes that don't necessarily have anything to do with your career.

You don't take most of your college courses to learn the facts in the courses, you take them to exercise your mind and make you aware of the larger world outside your own life. If you don't want to do that, go to a trade school and spend the rest of your life as a welder making "good money" at twenty bucks an hour.
 
2012-07-30 06:04:03 PM
I read that in Edward Longshanks' voice.
 
2012-07-30 06:04:19 PM
Coming to a theater country near you.

ecx.images-amazon.com
 
2012-07-30 06:04:54 PM
But don't you guys get it! Algebra is hard! If we stops teaching the hard math then no one has to worry about learning anymore of that hard math stuff anymore and the problem goes away *poof* problem solved OKAY GUYS.
 
2012-07-30 06:05:54 PM
i think the best way to compete with the chinese is to produce more polysci majors. oh wait, i just realized that there is not a single thing that the modern consumer wants, that a polysci major can produce.
 
2012-07-30 06:06:01 PM

Vegan Meat Popsicle: welder making "good money" at twenty bucks an hour.


welders can make a heck of a lot more than that
 
2012-07-30 06:06:07 PM
If college algebra and trig are to complicated for you, you have no business having a degree. If high school algebra and trig are too complicated for you, you have no business being a high school graduate. Saying you don't need basic numeracy is like saying you don't need literacy. But since this fail-the-children ideology permeates modern America, the percentage of people needing remedial english and math at universities is on the rise.
 
2012-07-30 06:07:05 PM

mr lawson: Voiceofreason01: conceptual level how to solve that problem

a: apply brakes

or

b: JUMP!


Senator Bob is trying to decide on how to vote on an upcoming healthcare bill. The bill would require everyone's insurance to cover basic preventative care. This bill will not result in any additional healthcare being used but will cause a shift where 1/4 of the time someone uses healthcare they will use Ordinary Health Care(OHC) instead of Emergency Health Car(EHC), 1 EHC is three times more expensive than 1 OHC. Which would save more money, voting "yes" or "no"?
 
2012-07-30 06:08:01 PM

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


I must have been lucky. My high school in Michigan didn't force kids into those. I mean, I took all the math I could as I was college bound, but they had enough basic math courses you could get your requirements

Granted, this was in 98, so they may have increased the amounts you need to graduate.
 
2012-07-30 06:08:02 PM
Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.

Percentages are normalized - you fail at math.
 
2012-07-30 06:09:08 PM
Yes! I love it when articles are posted that give us STEM farkers even more reason to make fun of liberal arts!

/physics MS student
 
2012-07-30 06:09:09 PM

red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.


"LIBRARY SCIENCE"?? How is that even a thing? Libraries are already obsolete. We don't organize information this way anymore. I'm not saying that in any way we don't NEED books, but we don't get physical books out of a lending library. Even publishers don't care for that anymore. I don't see any use for a "Library Scientist" unless the term is grossly misleading and describes something else altogether.
 
2012-07-30 06:09:36 PM

Voiceofreason01: Senator Bob is trying to decide on how to vote on an upcoming healthcare bill. The bill would require everyone's insurance to cover basic preventative care. This bill will not result in any additional healthcare being used but will cause a shift where 1/4 of the time someone uses healthcare they will use Ordinary Health Care(OHC) instead of Emergency Health Car(EHC), 1 EHC is three times more expensive than 1 OHC. Which would save more money, voting "yes" or "no"?


Answer: Whichever lobby group gave Sen. Bob more money.
 
2012-07-30 06:10:17 PM

red5ish: Russky: A study from Georgetown University listed the five college majors with the highest unemployment rates (crossed against popularity): clinical psychology, 19.5%; miscellaneous fine arts, 16.2%; United States history, 15.1%; library science, 15.0%; and military technologies and educational psychology are tied at 10.9%.

Unemployment rates for STEM subjects? Astrophysics/astronomy, just about 0%; geological and geophysics engineering, 0% as well; physical science, 2.5%; geosciences, 3.2%; and math/computer science, 3.5%.

Do they also publish the % of people graduating in these disciplines? You don't even need to study statistics to know that without that information the above figures are meaningless. Take for example a case where 100% of all graduates are engineers; wouldn't a larger percentage of them be unemployed? All you're doing is giving an example of supply and demand.


That's exactly the problem isn't it, there is no demand for 'fine arts' degrees but people keep taking it instead of a career where there is demand like the sciences. Everyone wants to be a farking movie star i guess.
 
2012-07-30 06:10:25 PM
Since half the kids in grade school now will end up in the thought worker category of business, YES, YES ALGEBRA IS FARKING IMPORTANT
 
2012-07-30 06:10:59 PM

GF named my left testicle thundercles: i think the best way to compete with the chinese is to produce more polysci majors. oh wait, i just realized that there is not a single thing that the modern consumer wants, that a polysci major can produce.


Porn. They can make lots of porn.
Some small subset of folks still pay for that.
 
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