Question from Jon Joseph Madison WI School System:
The most important mathematics I teach high school learners is the math of daily living - doing taxes, computing percents, understanding a mortgage. One of the reasons that parents can't help the students with the type of math we currently teach is because they have never used it since they graduated from high school. Granted, some students need algebra, geometry and calculus but for the vast majority is this really required?
Students must have a thorough grounding in arithmetic, that's for sure. But an awful lot of jobs in the new economy require knowledge of algebra and geometry as well, and there is no reason why the vast majority of students can't master those topics. Other nations do it, and so can we. By the way, Teaching the New Basic Skills by Richard Murnane and Frank Levy is a great book to read on this question.
I've always wondered about this - how much math do regular people actually use beyond arithmetic?
Geometry makes sense, but how do regular folk use algebra on the job? (I don't object to state standards requiring mastery of algebra 1; quite the opposite. But I haven't been able to see where many people use algebra in the workplace.)
I had no idea Murnane addresses this; I have the book upstairs.