From Slate: How to Fix Math Education in High Schools and Colleges

11 Nov

For Slate, Torie Bosch reports:

One of the primary problems with math education today, according to Arthur T. Benjamin, is that the sequence of courses leads students in the wrong direction. “For the last 200 years, the mathematics that we’ve learned starts with arithmetic and algebra, and everything we do after that is taking us toward one subject, calculus. I think that is the wrong mathematical goal for 90 percent of our students,” he says. “We’re now living in an age of information and data, and the mathematics that will be most relevant to our daily lives is probability and statistics.” Only some professions require calculus. Everyone reads—and many misunderstand—media reports about health, science, and the environment that contain statistics. Better literacy in probability and stats would benefit everyone.

Nazareth’s mathematics program de-emphasizes rote learning and instead encourages the integration of numerical, graphical, and symbolic approaches to problem solving.  Mathematics is more than a collection of recipes for solving equations; in fact, there often may be multiple correct answers to complex problems. The key is to teach Nazareth students critical thinking, which they will then use and apply in their future careers, whether as mathematicians, math educators, or any other profession involving the mastery of math skills.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of a Nazareth education, many non-math majors take mathematics courses during their time at the College. The new Integrated Center for Math and Science will further enhance Nazareth’s ability to provide a challenging math education for math majors and non-majors alike. And for all students, the math department offers the Elliot Mathematics Center, a space dedicated to free peer-tutoring service for students having difficulty with mathematical skills.

For more information about–and current news from–Nazareth’s department of mathematics, visit naz.edu/math/student-news-events

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