We Need a Serious Math Revolution Part II

There has been an article titled "Should we Teach Algebra" recently floating around on Twitter.  My question is what is the purpose of our current math class progression?  Why in high school do we progress from algebra to geometry to algebra II to pre calculus?  The answer is simple.  That is the way we have done it for decades. What job requires you to do 30 two step equations with the distributive property? Absolutely none.  There is no purpose for the way we cover math with tests and meaningless problems. IT IS 2012. The kids don't see any reason to learn it because we don't teach the application.  The reason we have math is to solve problems and get answers, not math questions but real problems.  I often hear high school teachers say that they can't apply their subject to the real world.  Why?  Is it their lack of willingness to really try or is the math we teach irrelevant in its current form?  

Every kid has to know how to use fractions, decimals, discount, formulas, Pythagorean theorem....blah, blah, blah.  I think schools should have ....... well I guess problem solving classes that have elements of math within every problem.  So that way there is a purpose to learn, shall we say, number language.  Going through the process and figuring out the reason we do math is way more important then if you can randomly on a Tuesday get 16/20 right on a multiplying integer quiz.  It is a waste of time to make kids memorize and remember every piece to every part of math.  Need to solve a problem, look up the steps, learn it, and then apply it.  Doing problems out of a book is a complete waste of time.  Hmmm... I wonder why kids hate math so much.  They can't see the purpose, there is no connection to any relevance in life.
No, better yet, why do kids have to calculate?  It's 2012.  We are not going back to pre-Internet, or for that matter even pre-technology.  If we loose it, everything else will go too.  Ever watch the show Revolution?  At that point it is basic survival........thinking.  Face it, that is why we are where we are in society.....thinking.  Let's teach our kids to think.  Not "how to think", but "to think".  Solve interesting questions.  They should be able to learn and understand concepts and be able to apply them.  Should kids ever have to solve a problem without a calculator?  Why, how do adults do it?  Maybe I'm lazy but I know I would spend more time looking for a calculator than actually doing long division.

Finally let's take a look at music.  I read this somewhere and can't remember but this is a great point from someone else.  If we taught music like we do math the kids would never play a song in their entire K - 12 career.  Why?  Because they would have to learn scales, chords, arpeggios, modes and every other little piece of music.  Then we would throw them out to the real world and say make the connection.  That is how we teach math.  We need to have the kids to not just learn the pieces but see how and why they apply to our world.  Let them play a song before they graduate for heavens sake.

Now I know saying this is all fine and dandy, but how do you do this?

That is on the way in the next blog.

Picture Source.  http://www.realizedworth.com/2012/11/is-your-corporate-volunteering-giving-program-a-perk-or-a-revolution.html/revolution

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