Archimedes used the method of exhaustion to approximate the value of pi. The history of mathematics can be seen as an ever-increasing series of abstractions. The first abstraction, which is shared by many animals,  was probably that of numbers:
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. No, the real emergency is that reading skills are far from what they should be. Now there may be some truth to all of these assertions and the overarching tragedy is our failure to commit to -- and adequately fund -- education itself.
How unsettling, then, to be overwhelmed by a cacophony of claims by educators from different departments forced to compete for attention.
Let it also be noted that, if we look carefully, not all of these statements are actually comparable: Saying that a specific subject is underfunded or ignored is different from saying that students are doing poorly in that subject, and vice versa.
Does one subject merit special attention, deserve more dollars, constitute the core of what we expect our schools to offer? At the top of the heap sits the compound discipline of science, technology, engineering and math STEM.
Thus, for example, President Obama announced an expensive new public-private initiative last November called "Educate to Innovate" that will focus on improving student performance exclusively in STEM subjects. Then, in early January, he was back with a new education project. Was its intent to spread the wealth to other kinds of learning that he had overlooked before?
It was to commit another quarter-billion dollars to improve the teaching of STEM subjects.
And a few weeks later, in his State of the Union address, the only academic disciplines he mentioned were, yet again, math and science. Try to imagine this, or any other, president giving a speech that calls for a major new commitment to the teaching of literature, backed by generous funding even during a period of draconian budget cuts.
At its best, literature enriches our understanding of the human condition and the natural world, while thrilling us with words arranged in combinations that are unexpected and yet perfectly right. The appreciation of the literary imagination is a hallmark of a truly civilized society, yet we have fallen woefully short of making this a priority in our schools.
The point of my example is not to argue in favor of studying literature, per se, or, for that matter, to argue against studying math and science. Among decision leaders and the general public, I suspect that STEM enjoys an immediate advantage simply because it tends to involve numbers.
Our society is inclined to regard any topic as more compelling if it can be expressed in numerical terms. Issues that inherently seem qualitative in nature -- intrinsic motivation, say, or the meaning of life -- we consign to the ivory tower.
As compared with other "softer" disciplines, STEM usually provides us with the reassurance of knowing exactly how much, how many, how far, how fast, which means that these subjects are viewed often incorrectly as being inherently objective, therefore more reliable another questionable leapand therefore more valuable yet another one.
Closely related to our comfort with numbers, then, is our preference for practicality. But STEM seems practical with respect to a specific kind of number -- namely, dollars. Moreover, anyone whose sensibility is shaped by a zero-sum mindset, such that the goal is not success but victory, is far more likely to be drawn to STEM subjects than to the humanities.
Those who confuse excellence with competitiveness are most likely to privilege STEM subjects over others -- and vice versa. Every educator, in fact every citizen, needs to know how profoundly mistaken are the specific empirical claims that we keep hearing on C-SPAN regarding the relationship between school achievement and jobs, and regarding the relative status of U.
Yong Zhao recently did a fine job of rebutting the specific contentions enunciated in the State of the Union address. As Harold Salzman and B. Lindsay Lowell have reportedvery few jobs require advanced proficiency in STEM subjects and there is actually "an ample supply of [science and engineering] students whose preparation and performance has been increasing over the past decades.
The real question we should be asking when we hear yet another speech arguing, explicitly or implicitly, for the unique importance of STEM disciplines is: Building on a discussion by the educational historian David Labaree, I once created a simple table -- which you can see here -- to capture four possible purposes for schooling our children.For example, we know that only 81 percent of Asian-American high school students and 71 percent of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics).
The point of my example is not to argue in favor of studying literature, per se, or, for that matter, to argue against studying math and science. It's to ask a question rarely posed except by educators in other fields -- namely, why STEM subjects consistently attract so much money and attention.
The animated series Peep and the Big Wide World gives wings to the innovative idea of teaching science and math to preschoolers. Wry and distinctive visual humor, charming plotlines, and lovable characters combine with a comprehensive science program to .
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Dec 30, · Well my friend Melissa and I are having a debate on what is more important personally I think it's math because science uses math but math doesn't use science, the only reason we are doing this is because well she's in honars science and i'm in honors pfmlures.com: Resolved.