Contrary to popular opinion, U.S. mathematics education has for decades achieved near-universal success in its goals. Virtually all citizens acquire a set of “core” mathematical competencies, which they use to great effect throughout their lives.
All that remains is to articulate, for the public, precisely what those goals and competencies are…
- Students will learn to deflect any and all mathematical conversations with self-effacing phrases like “I’m not really a math person” and “Ha, numbers are the worst, right?”
- Students will groan amiably when asked to calculate a tip.
- Students will internalize a deep and nameless sense of intellectual inferiority.
- Students will consider multiple representations of mathematical ideas, and find them all equally baffling.
- Students will revere mathematics as a kind of magic. Boring, irrelevant magic.
- Students will blithely defer to dubious statistics – except for any statistics that challenge their preconceptions, which they will reject out of hand.
- When faced with an unfamiliar problem, students will cross their fingers and combine the numbers at random.
- Students will look up one day, decades into adulthood, and realize with a sense of scandal and outrage that they never actually needed any algebra.