Why mathematicians are taking a stand against the “math wars”
The U.S. is the world’s second-largest economy, and its economy is one of the world the world most valuable.
Yet, a lot of the math that goes into the country’s economic performance is done by a small but vocal minority of mathematicians who believe that math is a distraction and that a more robust national math education would be more effective.
“We’re not doing math as a science anymore,” says Stephen Novella, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania.
“That’s where we are, and we’re doing it wrong.
Math is not science.”
Novellas group recently published a paper arguing that mathematics is not only important in the economy, but that math should be taught in a national context as well.
And it’s not just mathematicians.
Math education is becoming increasingly common at schools across the country, and that’s creating a new generation of math teachers who are taking on the challenge of challenging the way math is taught in schools.
The problem, says Novello, is that the country doesn’t have a robust math education.
“In my view, there is a real disconnect between math education and math practice in the U.K.,” he says.
In Britain, where most students take part in an advanced mathematics curriculum, Novelli says, the national curriculum is much more rigorous than in the United States.
Maths is one subject that doesn’t get taught in the UK.
In the United Kingdom, the country has a number of math clubs, where students can work with a teacher and share their work with each other.
But the math clubs are often set up by parents or other adults who are unfamiliar with the subject.
“The curriculum in the British schools is much better than ours,” Noveello says.
“There’s no reason for us to be at the bottom of the heap, but there’s also no reason to be the best.”
“We’ve got to get to the bottom,” Novellas co-founder and president of the Math Society of America, says.
Novelella says the problem with math education is that it’s being taught as if it were a science, rather than a math subject.
But there is also a lack of data on the effectiveness of math education in math and science.
The U in the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation have both recently issued reports that found that students who were given the opportunity to study math at home and at school performed significantly better on a standardized math test than those who were taught by math teachers.
In addition, there are more high-stakes math tests now available for students across the U., which means that students with math problems are getting much better answers.
“It’s hard to see how math is ever going to be an area where we’re going to have a great deal of success in the future,” Novesllas cofounder says.
The Math Society and the Math Education Network are also calling on policymakers to increase funding for math education, and for the National Academies of Science and Engineering to issue a report that will explain the state of the art on math education that the United Nations is planning to publish in the coming years.
“Mathematics education is one area that is a high priority for us, and it’s one that we have a responsibility to ensure is supported,” says Novella.
In fact, Novillas group is planning a major national math and math education conference this spring.
He hopes that the conference will be attended by a wide range of mathematic and science educators from across the United State.
Novesillas team has already organized a number more conferences in the next few years, and they plan to continue to push for greater math education across the globe.
“Our goal is to make sure that there is this global push to ensure that the mathematics education in the world is as robust as it can be,” Nvellas says.