Monday, May 13, 2013

Math Monday: Is Being Good at Math More Important Than Being Smart?

Greetings, Fig Friends, and welcome to the first of our recurring Math Monday blog posts. We'll use these monthly posts to note some fun news or ideas from the world of math and education, just in case you're not all as weirdly obsessed with math news as we are.
"We're not saying to lower math standards, but we ought to require math that is appropriate for the direction students want to go in," said Marc Tucker, president of NCEE, a nonpartisan education think tank funded by private donations and government grants. "Otherwise, we produce failure where no failure is necessary." 
(Ed. note: FastFig is against unnecessary failure. We're all about necessary failure, though.)
Researchers recommend that high schools ensure that all students master a basic algebra course and then offer options that suit other professions, such as statistics or geometry, rather than the "one-size-fits-all" thinking behind the math curriculum that most schools require of graduates...
Pam Guenther, who teaches algebra at Santa Barbara City College in California, has "mixed feelings" about recommended changes to math curriculum. "I like the idea that we teach what is necessary," she said. "But at 16 or 17, do you really know what you want to be when you grow up?"
Ritchie and Bates found that participants' reading and math ability at age 7 were linked to their social class a full 35 years later. Participants who had higher reading and math skills as children ended up having higher incomes, better housing, and better jobs in adulthood. The data suggest, for example, that going up one reading level at age 7 was associated with a £5,000, or roughly $7,750, increase in income at age 42. 
The long-term associations held even after the researchers took other common factors into account. 
"These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life."
Kenneth Appel: Brought math to the computer
  •  Lastly, we'd like to note the passing of Kenneth Appel. Appel and his colleague Wolfgang Haken proved the Four-Colour Theorem at UIC in 1976, which was rad, but what was more important was that he did it with a computer. Solving a century-old theorem with a computer was a major change for the way mathematicians interacted with technology, and absolutely changed the way computers were viewed. As people who are redefining by the ways one can use computers to help with math, we view Appel as a sort of patron saint of FastFig.

In your multimedia section:

If you haven't yet checked out our little appearance on Lehigh Valley Tech Radio, it's entertaining and includes an entrepreneurship game you can play along at home.
Here's a video, courtesy of the University of Rochester, of baboons understanding quantity:
And, not really related to math but still cool, here's a video of the first music video from space, as social media star astronaut Chris Hadfield records David Bowie's "Space Oddity":
You're welcome. Happy Monday!

1 comment:

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