Thursday, September 24, 2009

Math: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I am not a math genius. My math teacher in high school just wanted me to add and subtract even though I was in an advanced math class. There were two girls in my class. One was a math genius and the other was me. We're talking the 1960's here folks. Just the beginning of the women's revolution and the Natl Organization of Women. The math teacher, God rest his soul, did me no favors. During exams he would have this other girl and me grade the papers of the guys and in return, not have to take the test. He always gave us A's. At the time, I thought, how sweet is this...Not now. The students of the United States always rank behind other countries in math proficiency scores. I previously wrote a scathing blog on the Dems wanting to cut back on Charter Schools. It now seems PreBo has finally come around and will support Charter Schools. Hurrah for you Mr. President! The Washington Post: "The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries."

Here's something that I found on the internet to try to make heads or tails of this dilemma. The story is as follows:

Last week I (not me but a fictional person) purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there , holding the nickel and 3 pennies , while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters , but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her , she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

1. Teaching Math In 1950s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?
2. Teaching Math In 1960s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1970s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
4. Teaching Math In 1980s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 1990s A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying , it's ok.)
6. Teaching Math In 2009 Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Anybody out there remember the slide rule?!

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