How We Serve (or Underserve) Our Students Through 'Dumbing Down'
by Kate Follette and Don McCarthy
|Image courtesy Kate Follette.|
"Math is only useful to pass a test in math class," said the college honors student with authority. As a lover of all things mathematical, I was initially shocked, but it did get me thinking: How valuable is mathematics to the average citizen?
Am I just biased in its favor because, as a scientist, I use it in my day job? By emphasizing basic numerical skills in my introductory astronomy curriculum, am I subjecting my students to unnecessary angst and agony? If I avoid teaching such skills in my course, am I contributing to the dumbing down of a new generation? My students are definitely vocal with their complaints about it. Do they have a valid point? Could I teach numerical thinking in a more exciting way that inspires my students to improve their skills?
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