On teaching math

June 29, 2009 in Math

Arthur Benjamin gives a short (3 minute) TED talk on the problems with how math is taught to high school students in America. He notes that the current curriculum is a sequence beginning with arithmatic and leading to the ultimate goal of calculus. But calculus isn't something most people use once they graduate - how often have you heard students argue against math homework by saying, "But when am I ever going to need to know this?"

Instead, Benjamin suggests replacing calculus with statistics, noting "that's a subject that you could - and should - use on a daily basis." Moreover:

The world has changed from analog to digital. It's time for our mathematics curriculum to change from analog to digital. From the more classical continuous mathematics to the more modern discrete mathematics - the mathematics of uncertainty, of randomness, of data - that being probability and statistics.

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