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Written by Andrew Hacker

Narrated by Barry Press

Ratings:

6 hours

Andrew Hacker's 2012 *New York Times* op-ed questioning the requirement of advanced mathematics in our schools instantly became one of the paper's most widely circulated articles. Why, he wondered, do we inflict a full menu of mathematics on all young Americans, regardless of their interests or aptitudes?*The Math Myth* expands Hacker's scrutiny of many widely held assumptions, like the notions that mathematics broadens our minds and 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.

In fact, Hacker honors mathematics as a calling (he has been a professor of mathematics) and extols its glories and its goals. Yet 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 understanding statistics.

Publisher: Tantor AudioReleased: May 31, 2016ISBN: 1515907155Format: audiobook

My initial inclination was to counter-argue that it doesn't matter if one never uses mathematics such as trinomial factoring ever again because it's the "learning how to think analytically" that counts. But after some reflection I think the author has a point even though he's criticizing just one of a hundred problems with our obsession with a one-size-fits-all approach to education. Yes, we should do our best to prepare future thinkers, and, yes, this must include a broad understanding of abstract concepts such as mathematics. But surely we can do better than an across-the-board litmus test. I'm not advocating for more coddling, but for more options. The world is growing in complexity and specializations are required. School should reflect this.One strike against the book: Mr. Hacker knows how to stoke the "fear of math" fire. He relies on this tactic too often to get his point across.

This thought-provoking book suggests that need less advanced mathematics, and better math literacy. This revolves around more things like word problems, converting units, simple statistics, etc. The work suggests fewer topics like asymptotes, complicated radical functions, etc. This work suggests that our K-12 educational system particularly should be focused on the math that everyone needs to make budgets, make voting decisions, and be productive at jobs only requiring a high school diploma. The work suggests that our current system is directed towards developing the 1% that will become math majors.

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