The Math Myth

The Math Myth

And Other STEM Delusions

Book - 2016
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The Math Myth expands on Andrew Hacker's scrutiny of some widely held assumptions: that mathematics broadens our minds; that mastery of arcane concepts - cosine, logarithms, the area of a sphere - will be needed for most jobs; that the Common Core's single format should be required of every student. He worries that a frenzied emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is diverting resources from other pursuits and subverting the spirit of the country.
Publisher: New York : The New Press, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781620970683
Characteristics: 239 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Call Number: 510.71 HAC


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Feb 20, 2017

The first part seems more of a condemnation of US testing procedures ( time limited multiple choice) than anything else. His main point is that virtually none of us actually use more than elementary arithmetic beyond university, but then I do not use the latin and greek I learned in school either, nor the chemistry in which I specialised. If you start throwing out any subject that is not actively used in later life you will soon end up with an uneducated, ignorant population - we seem to be part way there as it is.
Having said all that there are definite improvements that could be made to the teaching of maths, more understanding of method vs grinding out formulae, more probability theory and statistics , and above all an understanding of what maths brings to society.

Jul 13, 2016

Actually, I agree with most of what Hacker writes in this book, and the overall gist of his thesis - - but his research is quite uneven; sometimes superlative, sometimes either too sloppy, or purposely disinformational?
On pp. 38 - 39, Hacker claims:
// . . . non-Americans are willing to take jobs with terms of employment that are not attractive or viable by American standards. \\
This completely false statement presumes that American workers are given a choice - - an opportunity - - to refuse such jobs - - what total DISINFORMATION!!!
There is absolutely no excuse for Hacker to write such crap; learned authors have been debunking this Wall Street propaganda since the 1950s! Suggest Hacker read the following books:
America: Who Stole the Dream? by Donald Bartlett and James Steele
Outsourcing, by Ron Hira
Sold Out, by Michelle Malkin
Now, the Lebowitz video has been around for quite some time, depicting the way corporations hire law firms to specifically doctor employment ads to hire ONLY foreign visa workers - - going on since at least the early 1990s.
When American workers are laid off and their jobs offshored, or they are replaced by foreign visa workers - - they have NO SAY in the matter, no choice, no opportunity to compete!
When President Johnson created the Border Industrialization Program, American farm workers were offered no choice!
When American and Mexican farm workers - - in central Washington state, California and Hawaii, were laid off and replaced with flown-in Thai workers, they had no choice in the matter!
Sorry, Hacker, but you also completely ignored the greatest component to your thesis, the offshoring of American jobs! [They've been claiming for many decades, just prior to offshoring in some job category, that such workers were in low to no supply, et cetera!]
Hacker does explain, in a rather subtle fashion, why at best the H-1B program is most mediocre, once again completely demolishing that charlatan, Michio Kaku [shouldn't it be Kaka?], and his Wall Street drivel - - Kaku is the same science popularizer who claimed that the global economic meltdown was nothing more than a normal business cycle - - what a clown!

Mar 30, 2016

My initial inclination was to counter-argue that it doesn't matter if one never uses mathematics such as trinomial factoring ever again because it's the "learning how to think analytically" that counts. But after some reflection I think the author has a point even though he's criticizing just one of a hundred problems with our obsession with a one-size-fits-all approach to education. Yes, we should do our best to prepare future thinkers, and, yes, this must include a broad understanding of abstract concepts such as mathematics. But surely we can do better than an across-the-board litmus test. I'm not advocating for more coddling, but for more options. The world is growing in complexity and specializations are required. School should reflect this.

One strike against the book: Mr. Hacker knows how to stoke the "fear of math" fire. He relies on this tactic too often to get his point across.


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