Skip to comments.Math Matters
Posted on 02/22/2012 4:15:12 AM PST by Kaslin
If one manages to graduate from high school without the rudiments of algebra, geometry and trigonometry, there are certain relatively high-paying careers probably off-limits for life -- such as careers in architecture, chemistry, computer programming, engineering, medicine and certain technical fields. For example, one might meet all of the physical requirements to be a fighter pilot, but he's grounded if he doesn't have enough math to understand physics, aerodynamics and navigation. Mathematical ability helps provide the disciplined structure that helps people to think, speak and write more clearly. In general, mathematics is an excellent foundation and prerequisite for study in all areas of science and engineering. So where do U.S. youngsters stand in math?
Drs. Eric Hanushek and Paul Peterson, senior fellows at the Hoover Institution, looked at the performance of our youngsters compared with their counterparts in other nations, in their Newsweek article, "Why Can't American Students Compete?" (Aug. 28, 2011), reprinted under the title "Math Matters" in the Hoover Digest (2012). In the latest international tests administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, only 32 percent of U.S. students ranked proficient in math -- coming in between Portugal and Italy but far behind South Korea, Finland, Canada and the Netherlands. U.S. students couldn't hold a finger to the 75 percent of Shanghai students who tested proficient.
What about our brightest? It turns out that only 7 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced level in math. Forty-five percent of the students in Shanghai are advanced in math, compared with 20 percent in South Korea and Switzerland and 15 percent of students in Japan, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Canada.
Hanushek and Peterson find one bright spot among our young people. That's Asian-American students, 52 percent of whom perform at the proficient level or higher. Among white students, only 42 percent perform math at a proficient level. The math performance of black and Hispanic students is a disaster, with only 11 and 15 percent, respectively, performing math at the proficient level or higher.
The National Center for Education Statistics revealed some of the results of American innumeracy. Among advanced degrees in engineering awarded at U.S. universities during the 2007-08 academic year, 28 percent went to whites; 2 percent went to blacks; 2 percent went to Hispanics; and 61 percent went to foreigners. Of the advanced degrees in mathematics, 40 percent went to whites; 2 percent went to blacks; 5 percent went to Hispanics; and 50 percent went to foreigners. For advanced degrees in education, 65 percent went to whites; 17 percent went to blacks; 5 percent went to Hispanics; and 8 percent went to foreigners. The pattern is apparent. The more rigorous a subject area the higher the percentage of foreigners -- and the lower the percentage of Americans -- earning advanced degrees. In subject areas such as education, which have little or no rigor, Americans are likelier -- and foreigners are less likely -- to earn advanced degrees.
In a New York Times article -- "Do We Need Foreign Technology Workers?" (April 8, 2009) -- Dr. Vivek Wadhwa of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University said "that 47 percent of all U.S. science and engineering workers with doctorates are immigrants as were 67 percent of the additions to the U.S. science and engineering work force between 1995 to 2006. And roughly 60 percent of engineering Ph.D. students and 40 percent of master's students are foreign nationals."
American mathematic proficiency levels leave a lot to be desired if we're to maintain competitiveness. For blacks and Hispanics, it's a tragedy with little prospect for change, but the solution is not rocket science. During my tenure as a member of Temple University's faculty in the 1970s, I tutored black students in math. When they complained that math was too difficult, I told them that if they spent as much time practicing math as they did practicing jump shots, they'd be just as good at math as they were at basketball. The same message of hard work and discipline applies to all students, but someone must demand it.
thats racist...!!!...wait...what ???
Q: What does a mathematician do when they are constipated?
A: They work it out with a pencil.
When I go to stores and the kid cashier says $4.61, I purposely give the .11 to confuse them. Fun to watch.
This is the reason why we still need affirmative action. The system is rigged with institutional racism by operating with a ‘white value system’ that values math over basketball. Clearly these kids are well qualified for any job with their basketball experience. Time to 'level the playing field'.
Look at Obama. He never learned math but after only 3 years he saved our economy, just look at the news reports. He got millions off the unemployment rolls and onto the disability and food stamp rolls. He dint need no white math courses for that.
He might have been counting occurrences of drinking a beer, not total quantity.
Buying soft drink in 2 liter bottles is usually more economical than buying a case of 12oz cans. However, the 2 liters usually “go flat” before one person will finish drinking them. Therefore I buy the case, knowing full well that the price per ounce is higher than that of a 2 liter bottle.
Your Redneck may have been operating on the same assumptions, just unable to articulate his reasoning to you.
BTW, I am a white boy of rural Georgia ethnicity.
May I add statistics to the list?
Defund the DOE and give THAT money to teachers for merit raises.
Part of your homeschooling math ciriculum was to have our kids count change back to us. We did all the weird things you are talking about. They caught on pretty quickly. Then we would go shoot hoops.
Larger cans give the beer more time to get warm, so you throw away more and thus buy more. There’s other valid reasons, like less aluminium cost, but I’m going with the devious choice.
Which does nothing to explain the 18 packs of 8 oz cans of Bud I saw at Publix the other day. Have to admit, I immediately had to know how they compared to 12 packs. I suppose multiplying units by unit volumes would have been the obvious solution, but the way I see things an 8 oz can is 2/3 of a 12 oz can, so there would have to be 3/2 as many. Besides, I couldn’t multiply by 18 to save my life (multiply by twenty and knock off 10% I can do however). Math might be hard, but it’s easier when you cheat.
I suspect he means Singapore. Their math curriculum is well-known to be superior in teaching math concepts.
Yes BwanaNdege, Kahn Academy is a real life saver!
I would pay more for the 12 x 12 oz. than for 9 X 16 oz. because I would prefer to have 12 just-right servings over 9 slightly-too-large servings.
Of course, this guy will probably drink the 12-pk in a night (that’s the only use I can see for Miller Lite) rather than over a 2 or 3 month period, so that probably doesn’t apply. Maybe the 16 oz. cans don’t stay cold long enough to deaden the taste buds through the entire can, but the 12 oz cans do. So it could be that he just didn’t want to explain all of the variables and the calculus that went into his decision when you were just coming at him with simple multiplication. :-)
16 oz. is a pint. Two words: frozen mug. When I was a drinker, I used to keep a half dozen pint mugs in the freezer for parties. When Bud came out with 16 oz. aluminum bottles, I used to pour them into a mug. Problem solved. Being an alcoholic, I didn’t care about temperature.
That being said, I don’t think you should consider it “cheating” to use tricks for multiplication. I do it all the time. For large multiplication problems, I just break down the numbers. For instance, when working on carpentry using large boards, I have to sometimes do the math in my head. An 8 ft. board is 96 inches long. If I have to cover a certain linear distance, I can break that down by 8 and 12 and do the math accordingly. Or even 3 x 32. I think that’s the whole point to teaching kids math at a young age. If they can learn the “tricks” but still express the problems logically on paper, they’re going to excel.
I remember trying to teach my 9 year old cousin how to do long division. I think I used Pi as an example. He got frustrated after the first numeral after the decimal (3.1, in this case). He’d not learned much past whole numbers, a shock to me at 9, and so Pi would’ve been a handful to him. FWIW, I divided out Pi to 61 digits on paper when I was in 2nd grade. My math teacher gave me a pat on the head, and I learned what it meant to be a nerd after I got punched in the back by the class bully later that day.
PS... that bully now works as a stock boy at Best Buy. He’s also 32. I laugh.
Like I told Dearth Reardon: frozen mugs are your friend. In my drinking days, a 12 pack was a good start usually done by 3 PM if we started at noon. Then we’d change over to keg beer or Captain Morgan, depending on the evening plans.
The 16 oz. cans warm quicker, but I never drank from them. Like any canned beer, I always poured them into cold mugs. Aluminum transmits body heat too quick.
Government schools curricula use ‘look-say’ reading and Mathland community diaries in lieu of mathematics.
They can concentrate on social engineering the children and breaking down their ties with their families this way, and not waste time actually teaching them anything.
I do the same thing! They hate it. I like having larger coins, so I carrying around change when possible, esp. if traveling. Doesn’t it just fry you, though, that they can’t figure out this basic math?
Oh... my favorite story: went to Chili’s for dinner with the little lady one night. It was storming and Chili’s was one of the few places with power. We went to pay, and they told us, “Oh, the computers are down due to the storm, so we’re taking card numbers for later.”
I told the girl, “No problem, I have cash.”
You’d have thought I was paying with gold nugget. The bill was something like $36.80, and I gave her 2 $20 bills. First she came back with $4.20. I told her she was a dollar off. She came back with $5.20. I just shook my head and laughed. She called over her manager... she proceeded to argue with me that $4.20 was appropriate change. I was flummoxed.
Remember, I’m only 32. This manager looked older than me and even had issues with basic subtraction.
Students never learn to balance a checkbook because they don’t use them. They like magic electronic money.
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