"Oh the humanity!" The popularity of Humanities majors is declining. Recent studies have found that the percentage of students earning degrees in this field is lower than it has been in previous years. What is to blame?
If stories are a part of who we are as humans, then why not teach math as a heroic journey in which the characters are numbers and the problems are compelling stories? Why not slay the dragon of Pi and live happily ever after in the faraway land of Algebra?
What does it mean for your child to "count with understanding"? It means that he or she knows that the word one refers to a single object of any kind, the word two refers to two objects and so on. Here's where you come in, as parents and caregivers.
Americans love a challenge of any kind, and we believe we have a puncher's chance at winning. That's the American way. That was the mindset of a group of undocumented Mexican students from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona.
I'm not out to criticize Louis C.K. or to throw fuel on the firefights over Common Core. But from the perspective of this particular third grade teacher, I respectfully disagree with him. Let me tell you why.
I do not hate math. I respect math. I did well in math. But because I've not used many math skills beyond the basics in my adult life, I've often questioned our education system's obsession with math and its dominance in our classrooms.
Most adults seem to have an instinctive aversion to mathematics. Yes I know the excuses: Bad genes, no natural aptitude, it's boring. But when federal agencies suppress their mathematical competencies in order to support STEM education you have to start worrying!
Scientists through the ages have noted, often with some astonishment, not only the remarkable success of mathematics in describing the natural world, but also the fact that the best mathematical formulations are usually those that are the most beautiful.
Are we, as women, not reaching out to the next generation enough to mentor girls in their career pathways? Do we need to find an army of STEM tutors if our schools are being left behind in math and science by so many other countries?
How directly connected are they to life outside the school? Is the instruction in our math classrooms -- in every classroom -- useful and meaningful to students? Is our school curriculum relevant to society?
For many middle school children who study mathematics at an age when they first look to adults outside those in their immediate family to define themselves, a teacher's thumb's up or down can shape their destiny.
Remember how irrational numbers petrified the bejesus out of the Pythagoreans? Or the interminable time it took mankind to introduce a zero into arithmetic? Recall the centuries of debate that occurred over whether negative numbers are valid or not?
It appears that in Massachusetts, educational reform does not mean vouchers for private schools, closing poorly performing schools, eliminating tenure for teachers, merit pay, and replacing public schools with privately operated charters.
An unpublished study from the late 1990s showed that calculus students in classes of about 35 do no better than students in classes of 90 and larger. There was no statistical difference in the amount learned or in the drop-out rate.