Bold, New Higher Education Agenda

Much of what I read in various popular, or special interest, education-centric publications, whether research-based or not, appears to offer palliative measures at best, frequently approaches pablum, often is misinterpreted or misapplied, and at worst is harmful in one manner or the other. Also, as someone educated in the natural sciences, and steeped in the scientific method, I find myself struggling to see the broader applicability for much of the educational research that I’ve read since entering the education field. Yet, as a result of my experiences as a high school teacher, I know that much must change in how we educate students today, especially in mathematics.

Furthermore, given the inherent dependencies in mathematics, a strong foundation in numeracy must be established early in life, in some ways prior to a child entering any formal schooling environment, such as preschool. Similarly, developing literacy requires immersing children in all aspects of one’s native, or parent-chosen, language starting at birth. To do otherwise on either front could severely limit a child’s ability to maximize their potential in life, as most professional or vocational careers reward individuals who possess advanced abilities in both areas: numeracy and literacy. Any delays doing so complicate the efforts of our educational system to prepare the most capable, learned graduates ready to contribute to the furtherance of society.

Hence, it was with great excitement that I read the commentary: California’s next governor has opportunity to set a bold new higher education agenda by William G. Tierney, university professor and Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education in the USC Rossier School of Education and the co-director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education.

He strikes the proverbial nail on the head in the following excerpt from his commentary.

“In addition, too many of our students are not educationally ready when they arrive to college, and they are not prepared for the workplace after college. They take too long to graduate, and take on too much debt. Too few who attend community college transfer to a four-year institution.

All of these problems are well-known, but past measures have been modest.

To truly make California a prosperous state, the new governor must set transformative goals. He must spearhead a plan that ensures college hopefuls are college-ready upon graduation from high school. He must allow community college students to transfer seamlessly to four-year institutions. And he must enable bachelor’s degree candidates to graduate within six years, ready for the job market and unburdened by crippling debt.”

As someone re-energized to improve outcomes in our nation’s educational system, but from the outside this time, I hope to connect with Mr. Tierney to collaborate on how best to contribute to moving his ideas forward so that we start to graduate students prepared for college and/or career. Today’s system, common core infused or not, falls far short of the mark.

* Success in differential equations requires success in calculus which requires success in algebra and trigonometry which requires success in arithmetic and geometry, and not as linearly as described. Success in any and all of these areas requires much more than a superficial treatment, which is what most students of mathematics receive today in most classrooms across America. The reasons why vary. Mathematics curriculum and pedagogy must change if our nation wishes to remain a leader in a highly competitive, global economy.

About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Independent consultant and junior college adjunct instructor. Former secondary math teacher who taught math intervention, algebra 1, geometry, accelerated algebra 2, precalculus, honors precalculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Statistics. Prior to teaching, I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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