Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Math Needs a Makeover: Our Most Pressing Educational Crisis May Boil Down to an Image Problem

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Math Needs a Makeover: Our Most Pressing Educational Crisis May Boil Down to an Image Problem

Article excerpt

A FORMER MATHEMATICAL boy wonder, I'm not unfamiliar with the presumption of nerdiness. Even educators, who know better, probably have to resist privately snickering: Good for you, Pythagoras. I assume you were also a first-rate Dungeons and Dragons player and a champion hall monitor. (To which I say, well, not in that order.)

Fortunately, the charges of nerd never deterred me. I didn't even connect them to my math skills; I passed them off on my retainer. But that association with eternal geekdom is one of the root sources of US students' well-chronicled math troubles. A recent technology conference laid out the grim data: 40 percent of China's college graduates leave with engineering degrees compared to 5 percent of US grads; more US students graduate with psychology degrees than with engineering degrees. After a host of explanations were offered, Leah Jamieson, dean of Purdue University's College of Engineering, added another: "At the heart of our problem are stereotypes."

What makes this troublesome is that destigmatizing math may be a problem that defies a solution. Technology has done all it can to move the needle on math performance, but seems powerless to give math what it really needs: a new image. It can be done--consider how Tiger Woods has changed the way we think of golf. But unless Tiger turns his attention to quadratic equations, being a math ace will likely continue to carry the same social tarnish as being a trombonist in the school band. Changing that perception is a lot to ask of a software program.

I was fortunate to like math inherently, and i wonder if it can be liked any other way. Often, in the face of students who wanted to know why their futures rested on determining the number of days it would take for an eastbound train and a westbound train to meet in Lubbock, TX, math teachers made the case for math by pointing out its practicality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.