The Purpose of High School Mathematics

The 2011 Anja S. Greer Conference on Secondary School Mathematics at Phillips Exeter Academy provided many opportunities to hears others’ ideas about the purpose of our High School Mathematics Curriculum.  Some of the statements I noted were (with apologies that none are exact quotes, and my lack of attribution on some):

In life, not to mention just about any academic subject, students should question information they come across, then work to support or refute it using numbers as needed.

Quantitative situations can be found in poems, literature, environmental claims, social justice issues, and social service needs.  We teach mathematics so that students can decide for themselves whether the quantities involved make sense or not.  Ray Williams (St. Mark’s School, Perth, AU) presentation.

Let the students ask the questions, then gather the data to answer them. Dan Meyer TED Lecture.

Most high school mathematics will be used for modeling, so why not base most of our high school curriculum on modeling a variety of situations?

Why continue to devote 4 years of high school curriculum to preparing students for calculus when over 90% (on average, nationwide) will never complete a calculus course?  Nils Ahbel (Deerfield Academy) presentation.


Published by

Whit Ford

Math Tutor in Yarmouth, Maine

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