Wednesday, August 29, 2012

schank, stager, richardson - algebra et al

Yet, we hear argument after argument about the need for more STEM education (pretending we don’t have lots of unemployed science PhDs). Everyone must study chemistry, memorize plant phylla and do lots of trigonometry.
The argument for algebra rests on the transfer from math to other areas of life, something that has never been proven

The defenders of the existing system love mathematics because it is easy to test and there can be test prep courses and state-wide tests and national tests and tests comparing us to other countries, all signifying nothing.
You can live a productive and happy life without knowing anything about macroeconomics or trigonometry but you can’t function very well at all if you can’t make an accurate prediction or describe situations, or diagnose a problem, or evaluate a situation, person or object. The ability to reason from evidence really matters in life, the names of famous scientists and their accomplishments do not.
We can teach people the skills they need if we allow them to choose what interests them and then teach them to predict, evaluate, diagnose, etc., within their area of interest. Teaching algebra and then hoping those skills will transfer to other areas of life is simply fantasy, a fantasy that makes our kids bored and miserable in school. 


Gary Stager, Ph.D. (@garystager)
8/27/12 5:30 PM
The great Roger Schank has a few things to say to school apologist Daniel Willingham about "S.T.E.M." -

dear chris & will - on papertism

will - what matters most - relationship
comment from stager:
Papert used to say that School at best teaches a billionth of a percent of the knowledge in the universe, yet we quibble endlessly about which billionth of a percent is most important - the piece we have always taught.

and so yes.. comments worthy of a post