Calculating the Why
This isn’t an anti-math post.
It also isn’t meant to be anything more than an honest question that I’m trying to find an answer to. I’ve long considered not even writing it for fear that people will misunderstand or misconstrue the question.
But, my inability to find a satisfactory answer in the discussions I have with myself is finally leading me to ask.
As a working, adult professional, I use less than 10% of the math I was exposed to in high school. What does that mean?
I’m sure a similar statement can be made about other content areas, perhaps with a variation of the actual percentage, but still. We spent four years learning content in high school that most of us can no longer remember and don’t use as a part of our profession and hasn’t proved necessary for our success.
It makes me think of two pieces by Alfie Kohn. One, where he states ten truths we shouldn’t be ignoring.
In the second, he details a very interesting observation about the result of a standardized assessment question for a Massachusetts high school math exam.
His quote from Deborah Meier is compelling. “No student should be expected to meet an academic requirement that a cross section of successful adults in the community cannot.”
So, what’s the role of content as it’s presented in today’s education?
Why did I spend four years in high school, and then several more in college learning math that I’ve long since forgotten?
Think back on your high school and college courses. If you were to take the final exam today, how would you do? What does that tell us?
What should it tell us?