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Chapter 14. The Power and Limits of Prof... > Low Level of Math Competency of Thos...

Low Level of Math Competency of Those Who Pass School Examinations

There is a second gap between ideal and real regarding mathematics instruction. Supposedly a society in which all citizens are taught to think mathematically will be able to use math successfully in dealing with public issues involving a quantitative dimension. For example, assessing the national budget involves comprehending large sums and their significance in a variety of budgetary issues. Assessing the significance of damage to the environment from pollution, assessing the loss of natural resources, assessing public health issues, and many other public issues require people to make judgments involving large figures. But it seems reasonable to question how many citizens are actually able to make these judgments reasonably, even when simple math is involved. And consider the many people who cannot seem to manage a personal budget. Many who have passed the school exams in math are failing the real task of using math successfully in their lives.

Test the Idea
Math and You

Think about your education and answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent would you say that, while in school or college, you mastered fundamental concepts in math and, as a result, are able to effectively use that professional knowledge in coming to informed conclusions about public issues with a mathematical dimension? To what extent would you say that you memorized definitions and procedures sufficient to pass tests but insufficient to understand the basic concepts underlying the math you were doing? Now, see if you can give examples of when you last used math in your daily life. What level of math was it?

  2. To what extent would you say that the math requirements you had to meet were appropriate measures to require of all persons? What reasoning would you use to justify your conclusions?

  3. In your view, should persons be prevented from being accepted by a college on the basis of low math scores alone?

  4. How often have you faced a problem in your life that required the use of concepts and principles of algebra and geometry?



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