Andrew Hacker Research Paper

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Hear that change jingling in my pocket? Good. I have two little questions for you. I have a quarter, a dime and a nickel. How much money DO I have? I have three coins. How much money COULD I have? The first question is a basic arithmetic problem with one and only one right answer. You might find it on a multiple-choice test. The second is an open-ended question with a number of different possible correct answers. It would lend itself to a wide-ranging debate over the details: Are these all American coins? Are any of them counterfeit? Do you have any bills? Frankly, it’s a lot more interesting than the first. Andrew Hacker is professor emeritus of political science at Queens College, City University of New York, and the author of several…show more content…
It poses many nagging, open-ended questions like the second example above, without a lot of neat, tied-up-with-a-bow answers like No. 1. Hacker’s central argument is that advanced mathematics requirements, like algebra, trigonometry and calculus, are “a harsh and senseless hurdle” keeping far too many Americans from completing their educations and leading productive lives. He also maintains that there is no proof for a STEM shortage or a skills gap; and that we should pursue “numeracy” in education rather than mathematics knowledge. And, furthermore, that we should teach numeracy in an active, engaged, social way, with more questions like No. 2. How do you define numeracy? 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…show more content…
We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. One in five people don’t graduate high school — this is one of the worst records of developed countries. And the chief academic reason is that they fail algebra — of course there are other nonacademic reasons, like prison and pregnancies. In our community colleges, 80 percent don’t get a college degree. The chief reason is that 70 percent fail remedial math. And even in our four-year colleges, 40 percent don’t get B.A.s [after 6 years]. And the biggest reason is they fail freshman math. We’re killing our kids. We’re destroying their futures because of this requirement. I think it’s outrageous and we’re doing a lot of harm. But what’s the alternative? Simply dumbing down the curriculum so everyone can pass? When I first wrote the article “Is Algebra Necessary?” in the New York Times, most of the letters I got were from people who love math, are good at math and believe everybody should have to do it whether they like it or not. And again and again they talk about how mathematics teaches rigor, it’s tough. There’s this whole discipline thing. It’s like as if math is an enforced number of pushups. I’m not anti-math. It’s a grand human achievement up there with chess and crossword
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