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Michael Froemmcke


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What does the average citizen need maths for?

I had a conventional education. In school and later at other educational institutions I was always just mediocre - but I became excellent at this - and as the years went buy I asked myself why the educational systems around the world seem to be promoting the same subjects.


Topics: curriculum

Closing Statement from Michael Froemmcke

I can understand that people, especially those who spent long years learning maths, are very passionate about the subject. Yet I am still not convinced that the actual outcome justifies the effort and, in some cases, pain associated with this subject. There seems to be widespread reluctance to even contemplate any alternatives, which reinforces my suspicion that most people are indoctrinated in believing that there is no good education without maths. I think the understanding of certain principles is far more important than an intricate knowledge of mathematics.... But this is just my opinion. Thanks to all the participants in this minor debate.

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  • Jan 24 2013: "G.V. Ramanathan, a professor emeritus of
    mathematics, statistics and computer science at
    the University of Illinois at Chicago, writes in the
    Washington Post that although a lot of effort and
    money has been spent to make mathematics
    seem essential, unlike literature, history, politics and music, math has little relevance to
    everybody's daily life. 'All the mathematics one needs in real life can be learned in early years
    without much fuss,' writes Ramanathan. 'Most
    adults have no contact with math at work, nor do
    they curl up with an algebra book for relaxation.'
    Ramanathan says that the marketing of math has
    become similar to the marketing of creams to whiten teeth, gels to grow hair and regimens to
    build a beautiful body, but even with generous
    government grants over the past 25 years,
    countless courses, conferences, and books
    written on how to teach teachers to teach, where
    is the evidence that these efforts have helped students? A 2008 review by the Education
    Department found that the nation is at 'greater
    risk now' than it was in 1983, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores
    for 17-year-olds have remained stagnant since
    the 1980s (PDF). Meanwhile those who do love math and science have been doing very well and
    our graduate schools are the best in the world. 'As
    for the rest, there is no obligation to love math
    any more than grammar, composition, curfew or
    washing up after dinner. Why create a need to
    make it palatable to all and spend taxpayers' money on pointless endeavors without
    demonstrable results or accountability?'"

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