Saturday, September 7, 2013

Have Sports Teams Brought Down America's Schools? : The New Yorker

Have Sports Teams Brought Down America's Schools? : The New Yorker:

That American high schools lavish more time and money on sports than on math is, I know, an old complaint. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that my own experience with high-school sports was limited to being cut from the tennis team.) But, as another school year starts, it is a lament worth revisiting. This is not a matter of how any given student who play sports does in school, but of the culture and its priorities. 
And the author goes on talking about how American students rank low in math and science. That is not news. Similar news was reported year over year, and not many care. Not only the wealthy parents as mentioned in the article, but also educators. A professor asked "is algebra necessary?". His argument is that algebra is seldom used outside the high school classroom, and scares teenagers away. Sure, football would attract students, just the opposite of math. Others would argue that what students would have learned in the field is more important than math.
The problem is not that parents do not care about math. The problem is that they live in a society where it is justified to do so. Math is seldom used by most Americans. However, math is important in making most, if not all, serious decisions, given it public policy or whether buying lottery is a sound investment.
Yes, we complain that too many people are financially illiterate, which contribute the financial meltdown, and at the same time, we wonder the use of algebra. Any link here?  
Math, algebra included, and science is necessary to make good decisions in everyday life. Math is seldom used because most people are not educated adequately to use it.
Democracy needs educated citizens to work. Politicians and the elite understand it. Maybe that is exactly why education is still under-invested. I was told when lawyers pick jury, they do not like engineers and scientists. They prefer people would be easily manipulated. I hope politicians don't think the same way.

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