Saturday, March 5, 2016

Weekend discussion: STEM shortage mythbusting at NPR

NPR Ed: What about the need for more people with STEM skills? 
Well, we certainly need people who know how to do coding. When it comes to engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we're producing all the engineers we need. The skills shortage is a myth. The chief shortage is getting people who will work for low wages. That's why companies in California want to bring people in on H-1B visas who will live eight in a room and do coding for a small amount above minimum wage.
Couldn't have said it better myself. His book is called "The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions."; curious if readers agree that we should be teaching "numeracy, not mathematics":
NPR Ed: How do you define numeracy? 
Andrew Hacker: Being agile with numbers. Regarding numbers as a second language. Reading a corporate report or a federal budget. This is not rocket science—it's easy to do. Kids become numerate up through 5th or 6th grade. 
And what is the difference between numeracy and mathematics? 
There's a firm line between arithmetic and mathematics. When we talk of quantitative skills, 97 percent of that is arithmetic. Mathematics is what starts in middle school or high school, with geometry, algebra, trigonometry, precalculus and calculus.
I, for one, hope my children become proficient at both, but I recognize there's an argument for teaching broad things that most people (not just a few) can get. 

8 comments:

  1. A math professor critiques Hacker:

    http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2016/03/07/on-teaching-math/

    "If it is true that large percentages of adults cannot carry out a simple computation about carpet prices, it is not because they never learned how to do it in school. Elementary school math involves little else but calculations of that sort...

    ...School is supposed to be the beginning of your education, not the end of it..."

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    1. Will be looking forward to Prof. Rosenhouse telling us that there aren't enough scientists.*

      *Actually, I suspect he will say "everyone should undergo science education to be a better citizen and a critical thinker" and will not challenge Hacker on the TE aspects.

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    2. I think his beef is with the trajectory of public education. This is undoubtedly oversimplified:

      "The real problems in education these days have little to do with anything the schools are doing, and much to do with the social environment in which those schools are forced to exist."

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    3. Funny, I had a real problem with that sentence, even as I might agree with parts of it.

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  2. What part did you have a problem with, CJ?

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    1. Blaming the problems with public education on "the social environment" is 100% true and not particularly useful/helpful. Also, the "forced to" is sort of a weird statement.

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    2. If public education is an entitlement, schools should have to operate within some governmental/administrative, usually local, constraints.

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    3. Ah, okay, that makes more sense.

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