Algebra Course That Teaches Logic Of Math Rather Than Instructions A Wish List (Goal List) for Mathematics Education in This Country

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A Wish List (Goal List) for Mathematics Education in This Country

Everyone knows that math education in this country is a disaster. In national news recently (November 9, 2010), it was announced that Harvard released a report stating that US high school students rank 31st out of 56 countries in math. The report also indicated that only 6% of our high school students take advanced math courses; and this is true for both private and public schools. Then the report, as always, blamed the teachers. He indicated that more highly qualified teachers will solve our problems. If only it were that easy.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be describing the various major attempts to fix math education and explain why they didn’t work (so we won’t repeat them); analyze the horrible first-year algebra failure rate; describing some new teaching techniques that will improve things slightly in math classrooms right now; and finally, describe the major paradigm shift that I believe must occur before any real progress can occur.

Certainly, being competitive in the global marketplace is a necessary goal, and “being No. 1 in the world” may be a desirable goal, but these are by no means the only issues of concern. The following goals, in no particular order, are all just as important as the two just mentioned. When we have achieved these goals, we will be much further along the road to success in mathematics education.

1. That No Child Left Behind will end and no more federal testing will be needed.

2. That the desired high school graduation requirement of 4 years of higher level mathematics (Algebra, Geometry, Advanced Algebra, and Calculus, for example) become realistic and a reality.

3. That all teachers are well-versed and will use the latest brain-based teaching techniques.

4. That math anxiety will be eliminated.

5. That each child has the necessary foundation to succeed in high school mathematics.

6. That the algebra failure rate will drop from 50% to 0%.

7. That all girls will want to study math and science and will succeed in both.

8. Never again will a student say “I hate math.”

9. That the persistence shown by young children in learning to walk, talk and read will be extended to include mathematics.

10. That the almost innate understanding that our little children have who they are intelligent enough i capable learning to walk, talk and read will also become a reality to learn math.

11. Never again will a math student say “This is too hard. I can’t do this.”

12. That students begin to ENJOY mathematics because it is easy and understandable.

13. That parents feel safe to help their child with mathematics as they do now with language.

14. That public schools and local governments assume the necessary role of helping parents to help their children with mathematics.

15. That no parent will ever say “I wasn’t good at math either” ever again.

16. That everyone understands the importance of mathematics in all our lives.

17. That all the “gaps” — male vs. female, white vs. black, poor vs rich, etc. – will disappear.

And on and on. Did I miss some important goals? Probably. I know that many of these goals are impossible until this major paradigm shift occurs; but I also know that we may be working on some of these right now. The more we can achieve now, the closer we are to solving our mathematics education problems. We cannot afford to fail.

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