December 2007 Archives

Before I got distracted by chimps who are arguably smarter than college students (as determined by the single measure of the ability to sequence randomly placed numerals), I was questioning the disconnect between the public concern that young people lack financial literacy, and a public education policy that insists on rhetorical mathematics at the expense of applied mathematics. Consumer Math just doesn’t have the resumé cachet of Trigonometry, and it seems our high schools are more concerned about preparing kids for college than preparing them for life. My question from two weeks ago is back on the table: Your ...

It was only a matter of time! First there was Jeopardy! I’m sure I would do as well as Ken Jennings. Then there was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which has some pretty baby questions and lets contestants ask for help. It’s almost as if we have a devolving frame of mind about our abilities. And for further evidence of that possibility, now there is Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? I am proud to say that I am smarter than a fifth grader, by the way. I know because I played online three times and ...

The headline on a recent Washington Post story reads: "Checkbook Math Increasingly Rare." Daniel Devise reports that these practical math courses, aimed at teaching students "how to balance a checkbook and shop for a home loan," are disappearing in Virginia and Maryland schools. That’s not surprising. Here in Virginia, we no longer teach Consumer Math as a middle or high school course. The goal is for everyone to start Algebra in eighth grade and for everyone to graduate with four years of mathematics. However, because parents and potential employers consider these skills essential, our General Assembly has mandated that ...


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