According to last Sunday’s New York Times’ article in the Sunday Review by Andrew Hacker, we are teaching math wrong. Rather than focusing on algebra and geometry, we should be focusing on “quantitative reasoning” skills – the math skills we will most likely use throughout our lives. These skills support a more comprehensive understanding of the math we need to move through our lives rather than math that exists for most of us only in the classroom.
For instance, many people read newspapers, magazines, and look at advertisements, etc. In some of these, there is data that supports the articles. Sometimes the data is in graph form. Other times it is in percentages. We, as mathematical literate people need to be able to read and understand those numbers and graphs. Most of us don’t need to know how to solve for X, when y is imaginary and m=4. We do need to know how to calculate the square footage of our front lawn in order to buy fertilizer and we do need to know how to understand our phone plan so we can make the most informed decision financially.
Take a look at the article and tell us what you think. Are we doing it all wrong?