3/15/2008

Abandon "reform math"

This article (watch the video) discusses the decline in math education, namely within Washington state. Although, I feel that it is easily representative of the broader picture throughout the United States. It makes me wonder if the decline in math skills demonstrated by American college students really is that significant. Does the seemingly low supply of mathematicians among American students indicate low prices for potential services rendered or are foreign workers simply a bargain substitute? Should the Federal Government begin to consider some kind of tariff or quota on foreign students seeking math related degrees? I think this is an important factor impacting the makeup of America’s human capital, and as graduate students preparing for professions in management it is something that we should pay more attention to. I believe that the business that ignores the importance of math also ignores the potential for increased profits.

2 comments:

Rearden said...

After watching the video on the problems with reform math, I was reminded of my own experience with math education, and how useful a tool it was in teaching rational thinking. Reform math, in it attempt to make math easier, robs the student of the very benefits that mastery of this subject has to offer. It makes math fuzzy when in fact it is very clear cut once properly understood. In my opinion, dumbing down our schools to make it easier for them does them a disservice.

Dr. Tufte said...

It's interesting that the area in which this is happening is one in which there is little market incentive to improve.

Here's an idea for you: what if tuition for remedial math had to be paid out of pocket - no scholarships, no grants, no loans, and so on. I think that would wake people up.