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Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

09:02
The second part of Assorted Stuff's commentary on math curricula 

AssortedStuff has written an interesting commentary on part 3 and part 4 of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's series on math education (his comments on parts 1 and 2 are here. I agree that not everyone needs Calculus, although I think that I would redirect the curriculum a bit differently than he has. In particular, I think that discrete mathematics would be a much better culmination to the high school math curricula for almost all students. This is the sort of mathematics that students need to have much more frequently, whether its in being able to estimate the length of a roll given the inner and outer radii plus sheet thickness, or understanding that the lottery is a sucker's game (although if we succeed in the latter, we could jeopardize education funding in an awful lot of states).

I would also (as I noted below), like to see more statistics in the high school curriculum. I think that it's not really necessary for most students to be able to manually calculate the slope and intercept of a regression line, but they really should be able to understand what it means and do it in Excel. Actually, a good course in math for spreadsheets would be an excellent addition to almost any school curriculum K-12 and undergrad.

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