So being as math is the bane of my existence right now and I've finally snapped and nothing is left of my motivation in regards to math but a manifestation of pure rage and anger I am going to rant more about how much I hate math. I have grown to hate it so much that I am now putting effort and energy into my hatred of it. So I will now continue my venting and raging about why students shouldn't have to suffer like so.That said parts of this are going to be taken from my comment over on my 'is math necessary' poll.
So being as bitter about math as I've grown to be, I've done quite a bit of research on this.
Some commonalities I've found in all of these articles is that math is responsible for really high drop out rates. In both high school and college. The kind of thing that makes colleges and America in general look bad. As stated in the first article, "in New Mexico, 43 percent of white students fell below “proficient,” along with 39 percent in Tennessee. Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra." The article carries on to explain that about "only 58 percent end up with bachelor’s degrees. The main impediment to graduation: freshman math." Moreover it is stated that “'There are students taking these courses three, four, five times,' says Barbara Bonham of Appalachian State University. While some ultimately pass, she adds, “many drop out.”
The second article also cites algebra is the main reason for the high drop out rate. "Many of today's math requirements are relics of the Cold War.If we would just do away with upper-level math requirements in high school, the high school dropout rate would decline, both writers argue, as many educators say algebra is the major academic reason for dropping out." The author believes that required algebra is a relic of the Cold War. That America began to require it only after seeing that Russia was beating us in the math department. This "in turn, creating a lot of unhappy students who, as they struggle through required math course after required math course, become discouraged and learn to hate school." And is that not true for many? How many math majors consider dropping out of school because they can't paint a self portrait? How many children go home and say "I hate school because art/music is too hard?" Not nearly as many as the amount of children getting discouraged by their inability to do math. Speaking from personal experience; I've always been an A & B student with math as the exception. I've always worked hard to keep my grades up and I was the dork who enjoyed learning. And I still do like learning. But recently I've come to wonder what the point in paying for my education is if one single class is going to keep me from graduating anyways.
And before you call me lazy or negative; I've gave it my all 3 times. I tried my very best to pass this one class 3 times. By the fourth 'sorry you didn't pass' I just started feeling helpless. My 5th most recent time is what is making me wonder what the point is. After 5 times it's hard to muster up any optimism or enthusiasm.
I just don't see any benefits in making students across the country (and maybe other countries) feel that kind of discouragement. Why can't it just be accepted that some students are best with Math and others are just best with English? These people should devote their skills to what they are best at.
From the second article; "'The vast majority of the human race, and the vast majority of the college-educated human race never need any mathematics beyond arithmetic to survive successfully,' Baker quotes number theorist Underwood Dudley as writing in a 1987 issue of The American Mathematical Monthly."
Not only this but mathematicians are even against the algebra requirement; "Cornell University mathematician Steven Strogatz told Baker it alarmed him to see a large portion of students not just not learning in math classes, but actively suffering." And believe me a number of us are actually suffering. I cannot even count on my fingers the number of nights I lost sleep thinking about how math is going to be what stops me from achieving my goal, what may be the only thing that keeps me from getting a job. It may not be physical suffering but it tears you down mentally.
The fact that I'm making a poll just to complain about math is probably telling; my motivation (which was very high the first two times around) has--after 3 times--been reduced so much that I began actually putting this kind of energy and effort into my hatred of math.
Of all of the paragraphs in article two I think that this is one of the most relevant; "If math were an elective, "American science and technology would be unharmed, and a lot of poisonous math hatred would go away instantly. Kids don't hate smelting, or farming, or knitting, or highway design, or portrait painting, or neurology, or juggling rubber balls, or sonnet-writing, because they don't have to take three years of instruction in any of these arts," he writes. So, math is like juggling, and should be reserved for that one weird enthusiastic kid in the class. And the rest of us could be spared the effort of trying to find an equation for tears shed per problem.
How about article 3? While the drop out rate because of math is so high. This article points out that " only 5 percent of jobs make use of algebra and other advanced math courses." Yet one in every five American high schoolers don't graduate because of it. This article continues to mirror the others in that "just 52 percent of the students who took last year's statewide Regents test in Algebra I passed." So by all means if you're gonna require math at least fix the freaking system so people actually learn instead of stressing over whether or not its even possible to pass math. ""When it came to x and y and graphing, that's when I started dropping, and it made me feel low,' he said. 'But we don't need to learn what x and y is. When in life are we going to write on paper, 'X and y needs to be this?'"
The nice thing about article 3 is that it doesn't just write math off. It offers a more doable alternative; "But Aristy isn't just repeating Algebra I again. BMCC is one of about 50 community colleges in 14 state that offer an alternative track called Quantway, developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, that seeks to develop quantitative literacy."
This whole math ordeal is especially taxing for the people who were screwed over from the very beginning. Again, speaking from personal experience, I was hugely
failed by the education system. If you don't have the very basics that you learned in elementary school down then you're screwed. You'd almost have to retake math from 3rd grade and up and no one has time for that! So let's go way back in my life. 3rd grade is when my ship started sinking. My parents realized it, and 8 year old me was getting the hint too. It started with the multiplication tables. My teacher handed out a worksheet and told us that if we were able to completely all 50ish problems in a minute, we could attend the ice cream party on Friday. In the beginning little me would work for accuracy rather than just filling in the answers. I got all of the problems correct but I never did so in under a minute so I never got to go to the ice cream party. Instead I had to do worksheets and listen to my classmates laugh and talk about how good their ice cream was. Naturally I began to feel really left out. And then my friend told me, "hey wanna know how I get it done on time? I just fill in random numbers because she (the teacher) doesn't check them." That's right ladies and gentlemen, my teacher didn't check for correctness, she checked for completion. So being only 8 years old and sick of feeling left out, I followed my friend's 'advice'. What 8 year old me didn't realize, seeing as I was just a child and children don't have that ability to think into the distant future, is that this would bite me in the butt in about 10 to 14 years later.
Of course in 4th grade since I didn't have that concept down I started falling into the low C, high D range. Luckily my school offered students the ability to go with another teacher and be pulled off to the side with a group of other kids who were struggling to be taught math separately and at a slower pace. My parents asked if I could do that.
The school said no.
Apparently slipping from a B to a low C wasn't means for concern yet. So they waited til I hit that D and F range to start intervening. By then I was in 5th grade and it was a bit too late.
I was screwed over from the start as many kids in my grade were. Because no, I wasn't the only person in my grade in that situation. The school system failed to do its job and now we are required to do all of this at the college level when we aren't even going to use math in our careers. In fact, I feel as though many people in my situation are so stressed out by math that we plan on avoiding it at all costs after we are finally free from the college level requirements.
So with that on the table, I just don't understand what the point in mandatory math is. If it only furthers the drop out rate and causes people more stress why make it a requirement? Isn't that kind of dropout rate harmful. Doesn't in make colleges and the country as a whole look bad? Perhaps it's time for whoever is in charge to look at this drop out rate, to note these statistics and make some changes; to eliminate mandatory math from the system or provide a solid, more manageable alternative such as the one above. Actually offer art/music/English students a math class that they will use.
I mean I am paying for college out of my own
pocket (and it is very clearly not
cheap) so I could start a real career and make something of myself. If I wasn't paying for these classes then I'd have less room to complain. But since I am I think I should have the right to say 'math is not going to benefit me, I'm not taking it, in the same way that math majors get to look at English and say it's useless to them. This is not
being entitled or lazy. This is looking at the fact that I have to pay for my education--not the government (because I will eventually have to pay the gov back for the loans)--and asking why I am forced to pay for classes that will do nothing for me in my desired career field. At the college level since most students pay themselves, why are things still being forced down their throats? And why is this usually only a problem for right-brained people?
That said, it really grinds my gears knowing that math majors don't really have to take art classes to move on with their lives. In googling 'do math majors have to take art classes I didn't even get any results about the subject; a screenshot of my search below.
What this tells me is that it isn't even a problem. Adding 'to graduate' didn't lead to any results about math majors having to take art. I've gone to a few college websites pretending to be an aspiring business major and looked at the class requirements. link
Take the above college for example; its core courses are directly in relation to business and even the electives don't really have anything to do with the fine arts. Many of the other college sites proved to be much the same.
"But you're just looking at business oriented colleges." Okay yes, but this only tells me that it is much easier or business, math, and science majors to find schools more suited to their needs. Honestly, if you're going to make artists and English majors suffer then at least make math majors start writing poetry and short stories and start painting portraits as well.
Long story short I feel like requiring math after high school is just a set back. It only hikes the drop out rate and puts un-needed pressure on students who are simply not math savvy. And there are people who just cannont
do math for the life of them. There's a serious road block there. Expecting these people to learn to do math is like expecting someone who simply cannot draw no matter how hard he or she tries, to draw museum quality work. It just doesn't work like that.
~ Sincerely, one very pissed off English major