Math for America

Discussion in 'Math' started by nsaspook, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. nsaspook

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    2,908
    2,168
  2. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,120
    3,046
    Long and dry, but I found it interesting. I really have a better understanding of what "Common Core" is now, and who is screwing up the implementation.

    I sympathize with the notion of wanting all our countrymen to be fluent in math to some level, but in the end I think Hacker makes the better argument. We are not all the same, and forcing knowledge on someone because you believe they should know it, is the epitome of statism over individualism.
     
  3. nsaspook

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    2,908
    2,168
    I think one of the mistakes with common core math is to emphasize 'understanding' at the cost of memorization when the kids are really young as I've seen with my young kid (first one under Oregon common core). Because of this need for 'understanding' there is a lot of non-sequential learning to filling the gaps. Sometimes it's better just to say 2+2=4 and move on to the next problem in a common series.

    [​IMG]
    Remembering has to come first and it's much easier when your head is empty.

    Our kids that are failing aren't hurting because they can't do Algebra II at a job, they're hurting because they can't handle the basics including division and multiplication needed to make change at a register.

    The feds are really cracking down on common core and standard testing. Oregon has a easy opt-out policy they really hate.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2015/06/kate_brown_signs_bill_making_i.html
     
  4. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,120
    3,046
    Hacker also admitted our children are failing not because of anything they learn or don't learn in school. They fail because they are lazy and don't work at it like kids in other countries. The whole argument over the curriculum is somewhat moot unless we address that.
     
  5. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,120
    3,046
    I really like that visualization. It's very good for math and science.

    But think about how history was crammed down our throats. It was all about Remembering, and for me at least, it was an utter waste of time. Worse, it convinced me I hated history. I could easily see the peak of the pyramid in math and science, but I was stuck down at the bottom for history. No one ever made an attempt to help us see the middle, let alone the top. (I had one excellent teacher my junior year of high school that did. I was stunned how cool it was.)

    Years later I've become very interested in history as I move up the pyramid. If I had zero history shoved at me until I was 30, that would have been great.
     
  6. nsaspook

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    2,908
    2,168
    With history anything beyond just Remembering quickly becomes an exercise in fiction while 'making sense' of the past. The value of math and science is not just the knowing, it's the ability to predict the future, that's its real power.
    History teaches us that unpredictability/surprise in human and world affairs is usually the key to success.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  7. KeepItSimpleStupid

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2014
    1,145
    204
    I've seen panic when they make a mistake at the register or you give someone $11.00 (A $10.00 + $1.00) to pay for a $6.00 item.
     
  8. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,120
    3,046
    You might like this analysis of the presidential primaries through the lens of a military strategist. A lot about disrupting your enemy's decision loop.
     
  9. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
    17,743
    4,795
    Just today I bought something that totaled $7.27. I gave the gal a ten dollar bill and started checking to see if I had any change. So she rang in the $10 into the register (and promptly put the bill into the drawer so that she would have no way of convincing anyone that I actually gave her a ten and not a twenty were I to claim that) and I put the two cents on the counter and had no idea how to handle it. So she called over the manager, who voided the transaction and re-rang it, asking me to be sure to, in the future, give them everything before it is rung into the register.
     
    KJ6EAD likes this.
  10. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    1,425
    363
    Taking a lesson from the confounded self checkout machines at Walmart and Home Depot, whose conversational skills are severely limited, I've learned to hand cashiers the coinage first, then the currency, prompt them to enter the entire amount as tendered and "casually" suggest that the change will probably be about $2.75 or whatever. It's slightly amusing to see their expressions of annoyed delight when the change amount comes to even quarters.

    Another fun recreational activity is filling the car with gas then counting the loose change in my pocket and topping off to use up the change modulo 25¢. ;) Modulo Gas™.
     
  11. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
    17,743
    4,795
    Getting back to the original topic, I mentioned this video to a mathematician friend of mine and as soon as I mentioned the MAA he stated that the MAA consists almost entirely of "mathematicians" that are at the extreme low end of the bell curve for mathematicians and that they are constantly championing off-the-wall notions of how math education needs to be reformed but that every "reform" they get enacted anywhere fails miserably. Since I had never heard of this organization, I have no idea how accurate his perception of them might be.
     
    wayneh likes this.
  12. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,120
    3,046
    Hacker made a good case but the other guy was almost unwatchable, despite making a few good points once he quit reading from a script. No way I'd put him in charge of...anything.
     
  13. KeepItSimpleStupid

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2014
    1,145
    204
    My boss prime factored license plates of cars in his head when traveling.
    He could also apparently play chess with someone without having the board in front of him.
    The Rubik's cube was cake for him.

    What I think is useful is to be able to do at least "order of magnitude" calculations in your head.

    That weird way of doing Algebra, I developed myself. Just way to late to make it useful for me.

    I really wish I had the hand trick of doing the 9x tables long ago, You hold out your hands in front of you and say you had 5*9. You would fold down the 5th finger and have 4 standing and 5 standing, thus 45. Even knowing that in the 9x table the digits add up to 9 would have been EXTREMELY useful. I had trouble with 63, 64, 54, 56. I just could not place them in the right table.

    It's easy now to rattle off the powers of 2 up to 65536 without batting an eye.
     
  14. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
    1,809
    361
    And you still wonder why no one comes to your party?
     
  15. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    500
    122
    We're failing our kids now because we're testing them relentlessly without any opportunity to learn from the tests. The only thing they're learning is how to take a test. This is one of the major reasons I just moved my kid to private school. Public school focuses the vast majority of their energy on preparing for some test, no recess time, no focus on anything that isn't related to "the test". Then testing happens for a week or two, with everyone involved feeling the pressure, especially the kids. School funding is based on how the school scores as a whole, they're attempting to couple teacher pay with how the kids perform (regardless of the demographic), so it's just total focus on testing. The scores come out and there is absolutely no indication of which problems were missed, or what mistakes were made. Parent's aren't allowed to see the tests, teachers aren't allowed to review them with the students in class, and the kids have no idea what problems they got wrong or what mistakes they made. There is no opportunity to learn from this thing that has been their total focus the entire school year! This is not learning. Not in a way that will produce productive contributors to society. So I took my kid out of public school and put them in private school where the focus is more towards learning things that will help in the real world. I don't care if they use common core math, or old school count on your fingers math. No math is going to help if they don't learn how to apply it to the real world.
     
    nsaspook likes this.
  16. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
    17,743
    4,795
    I both agree and disagree with you. I don't have a fundamental problem with testing, or even "teaching to the test", provided the test is devised so that teaching to the test results in the need to learn the material that is being tested on. But that last part is very hard to accomplish and there seems little effort being put forth into accomplishing it.

    Testing can be taken to either extreme -- testing too much and not testing enough -- and neither is good for the student.

    My daughter goes to a charter school (first day of class today -- yeah!) and while there will be standardized tests that they will be taking toward the end of the year, I actually haven't seen any indication that their curriculum is strongly tied to those exams. But that may not be too surprising since they do other things that are against the new norms such as teaching cursive first starting in kindergarten.

    One thing they will be doing over the next couple of weeks is "leveling", which is assessing each student to put them into groups of comparable abilities in math and a couple other area. That's something that is becoming increasingly rare since it is not politically correct to do anything that might identify that this student is better at something (non-athletic) than that student. I'm happy to see it because it allows the good students to learn even more without being held back by the poor students and it allows the poor students to get more focused attention to improve their skills without being pushed too fast by the good students.

    When I was in school ('70s and '80s) there were standardized tests at, if I recall, three grade levels (4th, 7th, and 10th, I think) that lasted about a week each. I don't remember ANY pressure at all associated with them -- in fact we enjoyed them because it meant no class that week which meant no homework (I'm referring to the 10th grade tests here -- I just don't have good enough memories of the earlier tests to remember what they were like, except that there was absolutely no pressure associated with them). You took the test and when you were done you were done. I don't think we got any results back from them (which I found disappointing). Although I remember sitting down with a guidance counselor in 8th grade and they showed me where I stood, percentile-wise, in a bunch of different areas. I didn't tie the two together at the time, but those almost had to have come from those standardized tests the year before.
     
  17. KeepItSimpleStupid

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2014
    1,145
    204
    When I tried to learn in a 4-year college, I flunked. When I tried to pass the test in a 2 year college, I got straight A's . I did go back and get a 4-year degree.
     
  18. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    500
    122
    I think we're on the same page, in that we both view testing done properly as a tool that can both be used to teach and to assess knowledge on a subject. It's unfortunate that public schools, in my area anyway, seem to spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the test only to abandon the part about learning from the results.

    As an aside; we've all known brilliant and productive people who are just bad test takers, and people who seem to get flawless test scores but cannot screw in a light bulb in the real world. ;)
     
    nsaspook likes this.
  19. KeepItSimpleStupid

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2014
    1,145
    204
    I did some research on memory and that's where I suck. The research showed 3 methods: Visual, verbal and Kinestetic, I'm MOSTLY the latter. The latter has been described as how you would learn to ride a bike or repetition.

    I can't remember directions from somebody unless I write it down. Visual and icons don;t work until they finally sink in. I have to repeat.

    So, that's what i did. I created "Flash cards" of what I expected to be on the exam and looked at them every waking hour.

    So, it turns out that subjects such as Calculus, Geometry, history and a foreign language require memorization. For the first two, I did not realize I had to be able to do the problems without the book in front of me. I did the homework fine. There was do time on the exam to derive.

    I found the problem with the help of the book and looking at the commonality between the courses I did bad in from grade school on.
    Penmanship was a slight issue for math.
     
  20. hp1729

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
    1,951
    219
    Math majors? Ah, well. In describing trigonometry the math wizard uses the elevation of the sun to show Sine and the distance to the sun. Do you see any flaw here?
    If I asked in this forum how many of us use math daily of course I would expect to get 100% affirmative. If I asked that question in a forum for poets I would expect a quite different answer. So how many professions actually need calculus? Trig? Algebra?
    What a predicament! If America required less math on our tests we would drop down even further on a world comparison.
     
Loading...