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Thu Jul 23, 2015, 04:55 AM

 

The Case for Federal Intervention in Math Education

People out there, conservatives mainly, try to say that states ought to decide education. Fair enough, except that America's economic ability to produce people with the skills for the jobs available is largely dependent these days on mathematical and scientific knowledge and ability (STEM). I've seen up close in graduate school how much more math literate America's economic competitors and real job-takers, India and China's students are when they study here. Many of the same subjects American schools require only 1 semester of calculus and 1 semester of stats for, require 3 semesters of cal and linear algebra in India, China, and even LatAm and Europe. Some of their schools even require algorithms and programming courses even if they don't major in computer science or computer engineering.

Currently, most states have algebra 2 and trig as the top high school requirements. That needs to be done away with. American students should be taking calculus in 12th grade across the board, not just the "G&T" kids, some of who are truly gifted/talented, but others whose parents are just protecting built-in privilege/advantage. I know that state's are supposed to have "rights," but this is a matter of economic importance. Cut out the demagoguery already.

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Case for Federal Intervention in Math Education (Original post)
ericson00 Jul 2015 OP
ion_theory Jul 2015 #1
Mona Jul 2015 #2
ericson00 Jul 2015 #12
just us Jul 2015 #3
Mona Jul 2015 #4
ericson00 Jul 2015 #5
Mona Jul 2015 #6
Igel Jul 2015 #11
MisterP Jul 2015 #7
ericson00 Jul 2015 #8
elleng Jul 2015 #9
ericson00 Jul 2015 #10
ericson00 Jul 2015 #13
boatsnhose Jul 2015 #14
Ka hrnt Aug 2015 #15

Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 05:21 AM

1. The major issue is

much of the U.S. Population actually shuns education. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and I can clearly see it whenever I correct someone or just state an obvious fact, both of which would require some1 to do more than just a Google search, I get this 'you're a know it all' attitude. I can see how some1 would just nit speak or even learn topics just so they can fit in better.

And that's another thing. The country has forgotten that elementary school ,and even high school I would argue, are to teach a young person HOW TO LEARN, how to think critically, and how to decipher text and pull out important info. This is not the kind of voters the rich establishment wants so we have to work even harder for enlightenment. Shameful shit

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 05:50 AM

2. That won't work.

As ion_theory said, the problem has to be approached by teaching them how to learn and think throughout the grade levels. (Btw, Common Core, if implemented correctly, should do this, but it is likely to be corrupted by the textbook industry.)

It is not uncommon to have students that have taken calculus in high school to place back not in precalculus, but in algebra when they start college - so they just placed back at least a year behind than what they expected. Putting in a math requirement that most students can't satisfy just waters down the whole curriculum and has a ripple effect. As a math professor at a university for 25+ years, I would rather start with a student having had no calculus, than many of these students that have "seen" it, but got it all wrong, or just learned some buzzwords, or how to manipulate without meaning.

If you want to fix math education, start with supporting high school teachers better. Start with requiring math teachers in high school to at least have a degree in math. Work on child poverty, and make it so students don't have to work 2 or 3 jobs to get through college or go knee deep into debt so they can focus on learning. AND stand up against "efficient" education that takes away classroom interaction.

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Response to Mona (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 10:43 PM

12. I agree absolutely with math teachers needing a degree in math

 

but I also think math teachers ought to get paid more off the bat to give incentive to smarter people to teach it, and as leverage to hold those accountable for bad math teaching.

I do think you can have a quantitative liberal education, if for example, NO ONE gets exempt from foreign language requirements, and everyone must get a C or better in an ethics or civics course to get thru college.

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 05:51 AM

3. Neocon legacy

We have had a 45 year war on education, teachers and reason. The goal is to create a minion that are easily swayed. Critical thinking must be protected for chosen.
We have three generations that have never known what peace is or feels like. Plus an avalanche violent
video and athletic games and syfy of the endless fight against aliens.
peace is a alien thought.

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 06:09 AM

4. Also, be careful when comparing to other countries

Many of those countries limit who can go to college and life decisions are made early on, closing doors to many options when a person is young.

On my reading list, so I haven't read it, but important ideas: http://www.amazon.com/Defense-Liberal-Education-Fareed-Zakaria/dp/0393247686/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428512725&sr=1-1&keywords=in+defense+of+a+liberal+education

I know there are plenty of studies that show, for example, how learning music complements learning math. We can't be single-minded in our support of STEM that we lose the rest of who we are.

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Response to Mona (Reply #4)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 09:57 AM

5. Fareed is not a good example

 

because his success in life doesn't owe to any liberal education. It owes to the name of the school on his piece of paper. You can graduate Yale with no skills and get a better job 9 out of 10 times ahead of the guy who has the actual skills. There's only 60,000 Ivy League undergrads currently enrolled out there; there's tens of millions of college students who cannot rely on such extreme prestige alone.

I do think every student should come away with a liberal component of education, but it needs to be done in a way where they actually learned something in school that they could not teach themselves but that can be shown and done, not just thought or opined. For example, poli sci at top schools involved a decent amount of statistics. At mediocre or lesser schools, it's an opinion class essentially. Same for other non-technical disciplines.

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Response to ericson00 (Reply #5)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 12:15 PM

6. Not holding up Fareed as the example...

...But the message in the title, that we are stronger when we support the liberal arts and general education.

I agree though about content. In order to make getting a degree "more efficient", even the STEM fields are removing content than many would deem important

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Response to ericson00 (Reply #5)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 03:22 PM

11. A few years ago some researchers pointed out the inanity of college education.

It was a hot topic here at DU. Their critical thinking skills barely increased over 4 years, the amount of studying decreased over the last 30-40 years.

They didn't stop with that study because there was this nagging doubt that they actually had answered the right question. A year later they said they hadn't.

In most schools what they found was true. Because the sample was so large and all-inclusive, they averaged two groups of kids.

The first was a large group of kids who went to mostly Tier 2 and Tier 3 colleges. They were barely prepared for college. They graduated with a minimum of effort and bothering their beautiful minds about much of anything. Notice I said "mostly". That's important.

The second was a smaller group of kids who went mostly to good Tier 1 colleges. Lots of Ivy Leaguers. They made truly impressive gains in their learning, they were well prepared for college, and put in a lot of hours learning more in college. Again, notice I said "mostly."

They found more. The first group of kids got jobs, but not always great ones. They advanced slowly to the top. Almost all of the Ivy League kids got great jobs and advanced quickly towards the top.

But they found more. Some of the first group of kids, after putting in their time, had their careers take off. They did well in school, but their pieces of paper didn't get them entrance into great jobs with great possibilities for advancement. It took them a few years to prove themselves and to right-fit themselves with an employer or career. That "few years" in the wilderness hurt their careers long-term. Mostly those who went to Tier 2 and Tier 3 schools turned out to be adequate.

Some of the second group of kids, after being hired to great jobs with great opportunities for advancement, stalled. They advanced very, very slowly, and often were sidetracked. They had the paper, but they didn't have what it took upstairs.

In other words, "mostly" mattered. Most of those who went to the wrong level of school took longer to find their way but some, no doubt, crapped out along the way. Most of those who went to the right school stayed on track: If top-ranked, their careers went well; if not top ranked, their careers muddled along. A few, no doubt, were pushed along by inertia.

Their conclusion was that elite-school status gets you in the door. What happens after that is mostly you, with a bit of chance. Non-elite school status can make it difficult to get in the door, and most don't get in the door. It takes a couple of years of work and a bit of luck to show your mettle and get on the track you probably should have been on.

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 12:49 PM

7. it's H1Bs we have to get at first

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Response to MisterP (Reply #7)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 01:00 PM

8. we wouldn't need more foreign students

 

if the math in this country were any good. But Congress also needs to authorize more medical residencies, but of course, doctors who've already made it are not only pushing out other economic "competition," but also forcing more nurses and PAs on the system.

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 02:00 PM

9. Sure, just TRY to get consensus from politicos around the whole country.

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Response to elleng (Reply #9)

Thu Jul 23, 2015, 02:09 PM

10. this is an issue where a brave politician

 

could take a stand and hopefully make a difference.

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Sun Jul 26, 2015, 11:16 AM

13. I think a potential reason math education is ignored is

 

that today's wealthier Boomers, whose parents were the "Greatest Gen" (who got into the top schools when there was way less competition), followed them into the elite institutions. The Boomers have set all the traps to make the vastly increased competition ineffective against their kids but effective for everyone else. When you go to the elite schools, you can get a job at a top finance, consulting, or PR firm with a non-quantitative major 9 out of 10 times before a finance or statistics/analytics major from even a top state school can or top non-state and non-Ivy school. To protect an artificial advantage is why rich boomers peddle the idea that the math education, and thus skills for many of the actual GOOD jobs out there, doesn't need a serious federally induced overhaul. Donald Trump is the epitome of this phenomenon.

Reformed math education, and thus the end of the Ivy League prestige alone as a way to get a job, is the answer, a lot more than protectionism or even increased taxes (which I'm for on the rich). Lets be real here: most poli sci, history, anthropolgy majors are not learning anything they can't learn on Wikipedia, books, etc (ie being in the class room and doing the assignments with trial/error/correction is optional at best)

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Response to ericson00 (Original post)

Wed Jul 29, 2015, 11:11 PM

14. more support for STEM

More emphasis should be placed on STEM in American schools. The importance of mathematics and technology should be made clear, and implemented on students at a young age. The government must put more focus and funding into these areas of education, along with stronger support for teachers and students.

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