One problem with learning math is that it takes work and practice. Kids don't
want to do homework, heck most parents don't want kids to have homework.

Most high schools have block scheduling. This means students see their
math teacher every other day, unless they are absent or there is a holiday or an
assembly or whatever then they might not see their math teacher for several
days. This isn't good. Also, with the block schedule, real instructional time is
lost whether the educrats want to admit or not. No teacher is going to lecture
90 minutes straight to make up for lost time.

I know there has been a
lot of discussion over math curriculum (Singapore, Common Core, Investigations
or whatever), but the what school is structured and the inability of students to
generally put in the disciplined effort to learn and apply math, don't expect
things to get any better but expect more stories like this.

HutteriteAmerican Fork, UT

Feb. 23, 2012 5:46 p.m.

I ask because, well, williams tends to write articles favourable to a utah
audience. And in utah, and indeed across the nation, sports tend to have the
highest esteem in any educational institution. We just don't value education. In
fact, as one post pointed out, mathematics promotes rational thought. From my
observation, rational thought is becoming marginalised in our society. So, when
williams came out on the side of rational thought and science instead of blaming
government and media and chinese fiscal policy, I was surprised. So, somewhat
with sarcasm, I pointed out that if williams wanted to write to his audience, he
should have supported the cool sports instead of the nerdy rational stuff. I saw
his position out of character. That's why I asked.

pragmatistferlifesalt lake city, utah

Feb. 23, 2012 8:57 a.m.

A lot of good comments here. Just want to add that the benefits of math are
many, but once you get beyond the basics the beauty of math is that it teaches
you that the world is not linear. It's not either this or that. It's maybe
this, if that, or possibly that, if this. That's how the world actually works.

America could really use of dose of that reality at present.

NatePleasant Grove, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 11:40 p.m.

@Hutterite "He did mean to say basketball, didn't he?"

Of
course. Why do you ask?

HutteriteAmerican Fork, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 9:08 p.m.

He did mean to say basketball, didn't he?

Joe SchmoeOrem, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 7:42 p.m.

7% of American students perform at an advanced level in math?

That
number is higher in Utah.

At any rate, less than 7% of the available
jobs require advanced math so I'd say we are just about on target.

This fascination with math boggles my mind. The math teachers have done a
tremendous job with making math important in the minds of the public but the
fact of the matter is 90% of the people don't need math beyond basic algebra.

In the US, those that need it, get it.

This is coming from
the parent of two future engineers.

worfMcallen, TX

Feb. 22, 2012 4:35 p.m.

Gildas,

"I remember her writing out addition sums on the
sidewalk with chalk and then solving them. Then she went to school and suffered
a regression in math and in English."

I've seen that with my
children and grandchildren. For whatever my opinion is worth, children are
spending too much time in school and are denied their childhood. They need time
of their own to explore, observe, and build curiosity. They'll do this
naturally. Forty hours a week being micro managed, and held accountable to some
test score isn't cutting it. We're teaching kids to dislike school.

If our present school system existed in the 1800's, we wouldn't have the light
bulb, and the Wright Brothers wouldn't have the time inventing an airplane.

TruthseekerSLO, CA

Feb. 22, 2012 12:45 p.m.

Do schools in Utah differentiate in math classes? Our former school district on
the east coast, tested and then differentiated students for math class starting
in elementary school. I don't know if research has shown this to be effective,
but I would think it could benefit the lowest performers and the highest
performers, while be a neutral factor for those in the middle.

EsquireSpringville, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 12:18 p.m.

Wow, I actually agree with old Walt. How did that happen?

So are we
willing to invest in the education system to address this issue? Are we willing
to make the cultural changes necessary? Are families going to step up, or will
they continue to take the path of least resistance, seek entertainment first,
and ignore the realities that will affect the future?

BlueSalt Lake City, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 10:32 a.m.

So are you going to just sqwawk about it, or will you finally stop re-electing
the guys who consistently force us to have the lowest funding per pupil and the
most crowded classrooms in the nation?

patriotCedar Hills, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 9:31 a.m.

Have you taken a look at any of the high school math books lately? Of course
that is assuming you child even gets to have a math book. My son took a physics
class in high school with no book! The class was a joke. I had to use my old
college books to teach him with. American Idol is more important than math
anyway -right?

E & EEPROVO, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 9:28 a.m.

@ VST:

If you're interpreting that quote to mean that Einstein was
bad at math, you have been misled. Google it and you'll see that he actually
excelled in math his entire life. If that was not your interpretation, then I
apologize.

@ Lagomorph:

I completely agree! I wish it
wasn't just a fantasy though. It is a shame that Americans are dismal at math
when it is so necessary.

LDS LiberalFarmington, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 9:22 a.m.

The problem is motivation. And Capitalism motives via $$$

Mathmatics/Engineering/Science does pay jack-squat.

Kids see their
iPhones, SmartPhones, and the Mark Zukerbergs of Facebook making $Billions and
want nothing to do with Math and Science.

Why bust your butt for
18-20 years going to school, racking up a $50,000 Student Loan, only to get out
making $15-$20 an hour?

The bottom line -- American Capitalism
-- you get what you pay for.

Perhaps you'd be better off studying
Mandarin or Cantonese. That's where the jobs went.

GildasLOGAN, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 9:21 a.m.

Balancing a household budget; the advantages (good investments) and
disadvantages (mortgages etc) of compound interest applied to individuals not in
banking; making change without a computer; prioritizing expenditures; the cost
of a car on a payment plan as against saving for a cash purchase; planning for a
"rainy day". Present real problems of life for individuals.

LagomorphSalt Lake City, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 8:56 a.m.

Can it be, a column by Dr. Williams that I actually agree with? If anything, I
would say he didn't go far enough. I would add to his list: - enough
statistics to understand the meaning of a probability p value, normal
distributions, variance, confidence levels (margins of error) - an
understanding of exponential functions (has relevance to interest rates,
population growth, etc.); the Rule of 70 - a smattering of calculus to help
see the world in dynamic terms rather than static (the rate of change is often
more important than the magnitude of a measurement-- e.g. global temperature);
the concept of marginality (e.g. tax rates) - how to interpret graphs of
functions: the slope of a line has meaning, as does the area of regions on a
graph (see the calculus point above-- this is just another way of describing
differentials and integrals)

I'm not saying everyone should study and
be able to solve second order partial differential equations (I've long since
forgotten how), but some grounding in the basic concepts would really help
people function in the world and interpret the numerical data they encounter
every day. It may be a pipe dream in a world where many don't even know how to
subtract to make change, but it's a good fantasy, right?

GildasLOGAN, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 8:52 a.m.

Basic Math is great; my daughter thinks so too. When she was almost five I
remember her writing out addition sums on the sidewalk with chalk and then
solving them. Then she went to school and suffered a regression in math and in
English.

I think that children have deficit attention problems
though. They are used to being entertained and too many cannot seem to
concentrate on anything that is not obvious "fun". Give teachers
clown makeup then and tune into Sesame Street. That will give them at least a
smattering in fundamentals.

worfMcallen, TX

Feb. 22, 2012 8:46 a.m.

Math is great. It strengthens the mind, and improves reasoning.

Unfortunately, math is being presented through a standardized test format, and
is destroying student motivation and interest.

How can teachers and
students find interest when subjects are mandated with penalties attached.

Over the past twenty years, I have asked hundreds of people their
opinions of these tests. Not one has ever stated it as a positive for improving
learning. No one has ever made comments similar to "I'm glad we have these
tests, my child has learned so much more".

Wasting time and
money, I'm amazed the public hasn't spoken up about it. These tests are hurting
our education, and students are bored.

kibitzerMagna, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 8:27 a.m.

If we could do math we might not use our credit cards so much. "Practical
Math" is the way to go. Invite Congress to take part in the classes.

EJMHerriman, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 6:56 a.m.

The majority of US students hate to do math. They hate to have to problem
solve, especially if it is time consuming. I see it everyday with students in
my office. If they can't get it done immediately then they want no part of it.
We have raised a generation of "let me do my work immediately and get it
over with". Math is a process. Today's young people, by and large, want
nothing to do with it. Pretty sad.

raybiesLayton, UT

Feb. 22, 2012 6:49 a.m.

Walter 4got 2 menshun that Math is BOOOOOORING and so Uncool! With the
cal-q-later app on my iphone, Y do I need 2 lern it? U sound like my English
teecher!!

## Walter E. Williams: To compete globally, American students must learn to do math

One problem with learning math is that it takes work and practice. Kids don't want to do homework, heck most parents don't want kids to have homework.

Most high schools have block scheduling. This means students see their math teacher every other day, unless they are absent or there is a holiday or an assembly or whatever then they might not see their math teacher for several days. This isn't good. Also, with the block schedule, real instructional time is lost whether the educrats want to admit or not. No teacher is going to lecture 90 minutes straight to make up for lost time.

I know there has been a lot of discussion over math curriculum (Singapore, Common Core, Investigations or whatever), but the what school is structured and the inability of students to generally put in the disciplined effort to learn and apply math, don't expect things to get any better but expect more stories like this.

I ask because, well, williams tends to write articles favourable to a utah audience. And in utah, and indeed across the nation, sports tend to have the highest esteem in any educational institution. We just don't value education. In fact, as one post pointed out, mathematics promotes rational thought. From my observation, rational thought is becoming marginalised in our society. So, when williams came out on the side of rational thought and science instead of blaming government and media and chinese fiscal policy, I was surprised. So, somewhat with sarcasm, I pointed out that if williams wanted to write to his audience, he should have supported the cool sports instead of the nerdy rational stuff. I saw his position out of character. That's why I asked.

A lot of good comments here. Just want to add that the benefits of math are many, but once you get beyond the basics the beauty of math is that it teaches you that the world is not linear. It's not either this or that. It's maybe this, if that, or possibly that, if this. That's how the world actually works.

America could really use of dose of that reality at present.

@Hutterite "He did mean to say basketball, didn't he?"

Of course. Why do you ask?

He did mean to say basketball, didn't he?

7% of American students perform at an advanced level in math?

That number is higher in Utah.

At any rate, less than 7% of the available jobs require advanced math so I'd say we are just about on target.

This fascination with math boggles my mind. The math teachers have done a tremendous job with making math important in the minds of the public but the fact of the matter is 90% of the people don't need math beyond basic algebra.

In the US, those that need it, get it.

This is coming from the parent of two future engineers.

Gildas,

"I remember her writing out addition sums on the sidewalk with chalk and then solving them. Then she went to school and suffered a regression in math and in English."

I've seen that with my children and grandchildren. For whatever my opinion is worth, children are spending too much time in school and are denied their childhood. They need time of their own to explore, observe, and build curiosity. They'll do this naturally. Forty hours a week being micro managed, and held accountable to some test score isn't cutting it. We're teaching kids to dislike school.

If our present school system existed in the 1800's, we wouldn't have the light bulb, and the Wright Brothers wouldn't have the time inventing an airplane.

Do schools in Utah differentiate in math classes? Our former school district on the east coast, tested and then differentiated students for math class starting in elementary school. I don't know if research has shown this to be effective, but I would think it could benefit the lowest performers and the highest performers, while be a neutral factor for those in the middle.

Wow, I actually agree with old Walt. How did that happen?

So are we willing to invest in the education system to address this issue? Are we willing to make the cultural changes necessary? Are families going to step up, or will they continue to take the path of least resistance, seek entertainment first, and ignore the realities that will affect the future?

So are you going to just sqwawk about it, or will you finally stop re-electing the guys who consistently force us to have the lowest funding per pupil and the most crowded classrooms in the nation?

Have you taken a look at any of the high school math books lately? Of course that is assuming you child even gets to have a math book. My son took a physics class in high school with no book! The class was a joke. I had to use my old college books to teach him with. American Idol is more important than math anyway -right?

@ VST:

If you're interpreting that quote to mean that Einstein was bad at math, you have been misled. Google it and you'll see that he actually excelled in math his entire life. If that was not your interpretation, then I apologize.

@ Lagomorph:

I completely agree! I wish it wasn't just a fantasy though. It is a shame that Americans are dismal at math when it is so necessary.

The problem is motivation.

And Capitalism motives via $$$

Mathmatics/Engineering/Science does pay jack-squat.

Kids see their iPhones, SmartPhones, and the Mark Zukerbergs of Facebook making $Billions and want nothing to do with Math and Science.

Why bust your butt for 18-20 years going to school, racking up a $50,000 Student Loan, only to get out making $15-$20 an hour?

The bottom line --

American Capitalism -- you get what you pay for.

Perhaps you'd be better off studying Mandarin or Cantonese.

That's where the jobs went.

Balancing a household budget; the advantages (good investments) and disadvantages (mortgages etc) of compound interest applied to individuals not in banking; making change without a computer; prioritizing expenditures; the cost of a car on a payment plan as against saving for a cash purchase; planning for a "rainy day". Present real problems of life for individuals.

Can it be, a column by Dr. Williams that I actually agree with? If anything, I would say he didn't go far enough. I would add to his list:

- enough statistics to understand the meaning of a probability p value, normal distributions, variance, confidence levels (margins of error)

- an understanding of exponential functions (has relevance to interest rates, population growth, etc.); the Rule of 70

- a smattering of calculus to help see the world in dynamic terms rather than static (the rate of change is often more important than the magnitude of a measurement-- e.g. global temperature); the concept of marginality (e.g. tax rates)

- how to interpret graphs of functions: the slope of a line has meaning, as does the area of regions on a graph (see the calculus point above-- this is just another way of describing differentials and integrals)

I'm not saying everyone should study and be able to solve second order partial differential equations (I've long since forgotten how), but some grounding in the basic concepts would really help people function in the world and interpret the numerical data they encounter every day. It may be a pipe dream in a world where many don't even know how to subtract to make change, but it's a good fantasy, right?

Basic Math is great; my daughter thinks so too. When she was almost five I remember her writing out addition sums on the sidewalk with chalk and then solving them. Then she went to school and suffered a regression in math and in English.

I think that children have deficit attention problems though. They are used to being entertained and too many cannot seem to concentrate on anything that is not

obvious "fun". Give teachers clown makeup then and tune into Sesame Street. That will give them at least a smattering in fundamentals.

Math is great. It strengthens the mind, and improves reasoning.

Unfortunately, math is being presented through a standardized test format, and is destroying student motivation and interest.

How can teachers and students find interest when subjects are mandated with penalties attached.

Over the past twenty years, I have asked hundreds of people their opinions of these tests. Not one has ever stated it as a positive for improving learning. No one has ever made comments similar to "I'm glad we have these tests, my child has learned so much more".

Wasting time and money, I'm amazed the public hasn't spoken up about it. These tests are hurting our education, and students are bored.

If we could do math we might not use our credit cards so much. "Practical Math" is the way to go. Invite Congress to take part in the classes.

The majority of US students hate to do math. They hate to have to problem solve, especially if it is time consuming. I see it everyday with students in my office. If they can't get it done immediately then they want no part of it. We have raised a generation of "let me do my work immediately and get it over with". Math is a process. Today's young people, by and large, want nothing to do with it. Pretty sad.

Walter 4got 2 menshun that Math is BOOOOOORING and so Uncool! With the cal-q-later app on my iphone, Y do I need 2 lern it? U sound like my English teecher!!