The bestselling author’s timely and provocative argument that requiring all students to master a full menu of mathematics is causing more harm than good
“Few people writing today for a general audience can make more sense of numbers.” —The Wall Street Journal
Andrew Hacker’s 2012 New York Times op-ed questioning our current mathematics requirements instantly became one of the the paper’s most widely circulated articles. Why, he wondered, do we inflict algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and even calculus on all young Americans, regardless of their interests or aptitudes?
The Math Myth expands Hacker’s scrutiny of many widely held assumptions, such as the notion that mathematics broadens our minds, that mastery of azimuths and asymptotes will be needed for most jobs, that the entire Common Core syllabus should be required of every student. He worries that a frenzied emphasis on STEM is diverting attention from other pursuits and subverting the spirit of the country.
Though Hacker honors mathematics as a calling (he has been a professor of mathematics) and extols its glories and its goals, he shows how mandating it for everyone prevents other talents from being developed and acts as an irrational barrier to graduation and careers. He proposes alternatives, including teaching facility with figures, quantitative reasoning, and utilizing statistics.
The Math Myth is sure to spark a heated and needed national conversation not just about mathematics but about the kind of people and society we want to be.