RECENTLY ON TOL:
- A tumblr site dedicated to the people and places that make up Oregon and Southwest Washington.
on Math Appeal
Our mediocre standing in math (and science) is 100% predictable. Looking deeper into the statistics, one finds that if children living in poverty are eliminated from the U.S. data, our standing in mathematics improves dramatically, placing us among the elite nations.
Everybody agrees that children's learning is adversely affected by poverty. As it turns out, the leading nations in math achievement have economic and political systems that are much more effective at mitigating poverty. On the other hand, we have, as a nation, made a conscious decision to tolerate levels of poverty that make predictable our mediocre math education ranking.
It isn't just poverty. In the U.S. we are also uncomfortable with the level of taxation and government responsibility needed to ensure an excellent math education for all. In order to protect the economic freedom to earn and spend money as we see fit, we decline to provide excellent education of other people's children. The result is that poor children often get not excellent education, but "basic" education, with predictable results.
Furthermore, we have maintained a system of textbooks, curriculum, and testing that protects the rights of publishers and evaluation firms to profit from K-12 public schooling; the result is that the tail (efficiency and profit), wags the dog (learning). Mass implementation of excellent math education and assessment is not as profitable as a "basic," drill-and-kill approach with multiple-choice, standardized tests. Our sinking math standing in the world is a predictable result.
We may actually have, or middle class and above children, the best education (and health care) system in the world. But children of poverty often end up in the educational "emergency room," already too sick, receiving "basic care" that often comes too late. The U.S. may never decide to move in the economic and political direction of math-smart nations like Denmark, Finland, and Taiwan; we want our economic freedom. But, as we are told, freedom isn't free; it comes at a cost; in this case the cost of a fully math literate society.
posted 2 years, 6 months ago
view in context