A conference 21st Century Mathematics, 22-24 April 2013, Stockholm will discuss some challenging questions:
[…] In the 21st century, humanity is facing severe difficulties at the societal (global warming, financial stresses), economic (globalization, innovation) and personal levels (employability, happiness). Technology’s exponential growth is rapidly compounding the problems via automation and off-shoring, which are producing social disruptions. Education is falling behind the curve, as it did during the Industrial Revolution. The last profound changes to curriculum were effected in the late 1800’s as a response to the sudden growth in societal and human capital needs. As the world of the 21st century bears little resemblance to that of the 19th century, education curricula are overdue for a major redesign. […]
1. What should the goal of mathematics be in the 21st century?
a. What are the reasons for teaching mathematics? (as a tool, to train abstract thinking, to train logic and reasoning, the ability to argue/as a way of expression?)
b. How have the goals of mathematics drifted over time? (Priest class– logic, merchant class–accounting, trade class– measurement and geometry, and how this changed after the industrial revolution)
c. How does the present system achieve or fail to achieve these goals?
d. What is the role of Higher Ed accreditation in perpetuating the status quo?
e. What branches of mathematics matter to the widest number of professions? Are they adequately represented in the curriculum?
f. What is “math for the real-world”? How do most professions use Maths? What could they use they are not learning?
2. What are the best practices curricula from around the world? How do these succeed or fail to achieve the needs and possibilities of the 21st century?
a. When should math be a separate topic, vs just-in time practice embedded in other disciplines such as Robotics?
b. In reverse and for instance, should financial literacy be part of Mathematics?
c. When should we continue leading in formalism, vs transpose and lead with examples and applications to guide students into formalism?
d. How do we inject skills (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration) into math knowledge acquisition?
e. How do we inject Character attributes (perseverance, ethics etc) into math knowledge acquisition?
The question that is not asked is why “New Math” reforms of 1960s and 1970s almost universally failed.