Earlier this year, I reposted an article that originally ran at Salvo on the war on the teaching of mathematics as a discipline in publicly funded schools in North America. The war continues so here are some updates:
Recently, three mathematicians who immigrated to the United States weighed in:
The United States has been dominant in the mathematical sciences since the mass exodus of European scientists in the 1930s. Because mathematics is the basis of science—as well as virtually all major technological advances, including scientific computing, climate modelling, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and robotics—US leadership in math has supplied our country with an enormous strategic advantage. But for various reasons, three of which we set out below, the United States is now at risk of losing that dominant position.
First, and most obvious, is the deplorable state of our K-12 math education system. Far too few American public-school children are prepared for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This leaves us increasingly dependent on a constant inflow of foreign talent, especially from mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea, and India.
Percy Deift, Svetlana Jitomirskaya, and Sergiu Klainerma, “As US Schools Prioritize Diversity Over Merit, China Is Becoming the World’s STEM Leader” at Quillette (April 19, 2021)
Increasingly, the United States is dependent on foreign talent in math and science. It seems an odd time for a nation to be sponsoring a war on math. But that seems to have happened. Increasing amounts of time are given to discussing, for example, social policy in math classes at the expense of skills:
The Framework calls on teachers to teachers insert “environmental and social justice” into the math curriculum. To develop students’ “sociopolitical consciousness.” To implement “trauma-informed pedagogy.” To assigning students tasks that will solve “problems that result in social inequalities.”
What about foundational math skills? The Framework rejects the goal of preparing students to take Algebra I in 8th grade, a goal that was explicit in the 1999 and 2006 Framework. This now-discarded goal has long been an international standard, and for good reason: mathematicians consider algebra to be foundational for all higher-level math. It’s also the best way to prepare students to…
Continue reading: https://mindmatters.ai/2021/09/further-dispatches-from-the-war-on-math/