Title: The Math Myth : and Other STEM Delusions
By: Hacker, Andrew
Call #: 510.71 Hacke.A
Building on his 2012 New York Times article, journalist Hacker questions some of the oft-repeated jeremiads about contemporary math education: Americans are falling behind economically and strategically because of poor math skills, companies can’t find enough skilled workers due to poor math skills, the next generation is lacking in critical thinking and reasoning due to poor math skills. On the contrary, Hacker points out that the dearth in qualified job candidates is due to low salaries, not a small talent pool; that tech and engineering careers may require higher level math to get hired but NOT to perform the work; and that the short sighted focus on coding and computer skills is producing large numbers of unemployed young people with few other qualifications. In interviews with professionals in science, technology, engineering, manufacturing and actuarial work, Hacker reveals that few of these occupations require the advanced algebra, trigonometry, and calculus high school students are now being encouraged to take, and that unrealistic requirements are in fact barring talented students from the better colleges, and excluding them from professions like law, medicine and veterinary. science, as well as from many paraprofessional careers.
Hacker is not anti-math; he simply believes that the vast majority of people are not well served by being forced to master a level beyond basic algebra and geometry, and that the current expectations derive from elite university mathematicians with no experience teaching children and teens, yet who are more concerned with exalting their own fields than with improving the lives of young people. We have accepted as a truism that studying math makes one a wiser, more thoughtful and intelligent person; but Hacker questions why math should be seen as the unique marker of intellectual acumen, and whether math skills truly have anything to do with the kind of complex problem solving crucial for overall success in life. This book has profound implications for the gender achievement gap, the minority achievement gap, the college admissions process and workforce development.