Back to the topic of how poor American students are doing in math when compared to those in other countries. Or not.
Roger Shank has a great (re: snarky!) piece in which he dissects the press release announcing a summit populated by “global thought leaders” in math education. Sponsored by MasterCard.
Just what qualifies one to be a “global thought leader”?
Ah. Global thought leader means someone who makes test scores go up. Got it.
Why do we need this summit? Because there is “widespread evidence” that math education in the US is crap, of course.
That evidence is what, exactly? That we are behind in test scores? That is the evidence that we need to win the test score contest!
And why is MasterCard so interested in math education? They need workers who can get high scores on international standardized math tests, right?
Really? Math is core to MasterCard’s business? Are they doing a lot of trigonometry over there at MasterCard? Congruent triangles on the MasterCard logo? How exactly is math core to MasterCard’s business?
Ah. They mean they like people who can add. I am sure they do.
As Shank notes, MasterCard, like most other companies, needs employees with a good basic skill set that includes some math but certainly not the Calculus track through which we force most students.
However, the reality is that MasterCard is probably better off with a math-ignorant population anyway.
Their profits depend on large numbers of people (aka “members”) with no clue what 21% APR (not to mention the tiny print legalese in their agreement) means.
The bottom line is that math education in this country would be vastly improved if kids graduated with an understanding of just how they’re being ripped off by credit cards and other everyday financial scams.
At the same time, maybe they can also learn just how badly they’re being cheated by the all-testing-all-the-time curriculum in which most are now trapped.