Friday, January 15, 2010

The cost of innumeracy is too high!

Many students often question the reasons of why colleges force them to take basic skills mathematics courses and require them to develop acceptable or high proficiency levels (e.g. earn 90% in MATH097). It is not rare occurence to read or listen students claiming they do not need mathematics in their chosen career path or to make a living. Another instance is when students shut down opportunities to appreciate the value of learning mathematics due to their fears (math anxiety), beliefs (e.g. "boys are better in math than girls"), and attitudes (self-talk down) about mathematics that are based on unfortunate past experiences.

The consequences of all of these disabling students' behaviors about learning and appreciating mathematics are too costly and disempowering. Unfortunately, students do not realize this until is too late. If you are one of my students, I encourage you to read the article (click the link below) "Why nerds must rescue the American economy: Lack of math skills contributes to consumers getting ripped off" to become aware of the importance of being math literate to survive and flourish in today's society.

Why nerds must rescue the American economy

Lack of math skills contributes to consumers getting ripped

Higher mathematics is the backbone of science. Practical math is the glue that
keeps society together and keeps an economy functioning.
Consumers who can’t calculate tips have no chance in a car salesman's back room
or a mortgage broker's office.

  • Only 42 percent of adults were able to
    pick out two items on a menu, add them, and calculate a tip.
  • Only one in five people could reliably
    calculate mortgage interest.
  • One in five were unable to calculate a
    weekly salary when told an hourly pay rate.
Consumers who can’t do math make bad choices, raising the cost of goods for
everyone else.
Innumerates hate math and are sometimes proud of that fact.
In fact, unlike other failings which are often hidden, Mathematical illiteracy
is often flaunted.
People who don’t understand numbers are prone to making terrible risk
blog it

1 comment:

Theresa Milstein said...

I lived in a good school district, but I was intimidated by and struggled in math. Somehow I passed the New York Regents, but my skills weren't up to snuff in college, so I had to take a remedial math course. Later, I passed college calculus with a B, which I worked hard to earn.

Now I see how much has changed in teaching Math in the Cambridge (MA) Public School district. They use TERC, which teaches number sense. Although it's not perfect, it's a step in the right direction. Just by being an assistant in the fifth-grade and subbing, it makes more sense to me, and my children are doing well.