Should Mathematics Be a Core Subject at School?

Current math core curriculum in the United States requires high school students to pass Algebra 2 in order to graduate. This high level of learning in mathematics is challenging for many students, and some question if it is beneficial and necessary for everyone.

Rigorous standards for math education began with the 1958 National Defense Act. Before that only 25% of high school students studied algebra.  During the cold war, when Russia successfully launched Sputnik, beating the United States in the space race, the US decided to up their game in math and science education.  While staying competitive on the world stage is essential, educators are now asking if these high standards are in all students’ best interest.

Can Current Mathematics Requirements Be Harmful to Students?

Do our future artists and authors need to have advanced math skills? Is this requirement putting unnecessary stress on high schoolers who are unlikely to ever solve algebraic equations again? Are students giving up on higher education because the math requirements are just too hard for them?

Some evidence suggests that these are legitimate concerns. According to a 2010 study by the National United States Department of Education, 80% of high school dropouts claimed they quit high school because they couldn’t pass Algebra 1. These students may be prematurely cut off from succeeding in other areas of higher education such as history, literature, or the arts.

How Can Educators Help Struggling Math Students Succeed?

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to flourish in their chosen career path, one possibility is to evaluate students in 9th grade.  Those that show an aptitude for math can continue onto advanced mathematics. Students whose talents lie in other areas can focus on more basic math literacy, such as finance.

This solution, however, has risks. Mathematics is the language of science, and a way of thinking which uses logic to solve problems. Universities are concerned that students who enter with only basic mathematics won’t have the skills they need to succeed in all their course work. In fact, universities already require many students to complete a preparatory year before they begin their university studies.

Another method being tried is modifying and individualizing teaching methods to help students struggling in math.  The pace of teaching is slowed down and students are given more time to explore the material. Teachers engage individual students, and provide real-life examples where algebra is used.  There is a lot of pressure for teachers to cover a lot of material quickly.  On the other hand, slowing down, diving in deep, and engaging in hands-on projects can really pay off in higher test scores and happier students.

Why is Learning Math so Important?

Love it or hate it, mathematics is an important subject which should be taught at school, if not at all levels of education, up to high school. Why? Well, there’s no roundabout way of saying this, but whether you like it or not, math is ever-present. And whether one aspires to study at university level or even venture into the business world by starting their own company, a sound knowledge of the subject is always essential and necessary. Believe it or not, mathematics is so omnipresent, it even features in the world of entertainment, particularly when it comes to Random Number Generator (also referred to as RNG) in the sector of gameplay. It’s an integral part of many card games, modern puzzles and multiplayer games. RNG ensures fairness and unpredictability in the way numbers are generated.

When it comes to finding a job, it’s surprising how many careers require math skills.  Musicians use math for studying chord progressions and measuring acoustics. Animators use linear algebra to rotate or change the size of the images they create. Lawyers use logic similar to geometric proofs to argue their cases. Authors and artists require math to manage their finances and taxes.

Final Words

The methods of teaching mathematics may need to be adjusted and improved to meet all learning styles.  The level of study required for students who struggle with math may need modifying. Mathematics, however, is everywhere. It is required for work, leisure, and daily life skills. It is a method of thinking that crosses multiple disciplines and should remain a required core curriculum subject for all students.

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