Our Maths education is broken because the curriculum is 1000 years old

Shrikant Patil points us to this interesting article on how the 1,000-year-old math curriculum cheats America’s kids

Imagine you had to take an art class in which you were taught how to paint a fence or a wall, but you were never shown the paintings of the great masters, and you weren’t even told that such paintings existed. Pretty soon you’d be asking, why study art?

                                       That's absurd, of course, but it's surprisingly close to the way we teach children mathematics.

That’s because the things we’re taught in school mathematics are all a 1000 years old (or much more):

Most of us never get to see the real mathematics because our current math curriculum is more than 1,000 years old. For example, the formula for solutions of quadratic equations was in al-Khwarizmi’s book published in 830, and Euclid laid the foundations of Euclidean geometry around 300 BC. If the same time warp were true in physics or biology, we wouldn’t know about the solar system, the atom and DNA. This creates an extraordinary educational gap for our kids, schools and society.

Just because something is old, we shouldn’t discard it; but we need to mix in some of the new with the old:

Of course, we still need to teach students multiplication tables, fractions and Euclidean geometry. But what if we spent just 20% of class time opening students’ eyes to the power and exquisite harmony of modern math? What if we showed them how these fascinating concepts apply to the real world, how the abstract meets the concrete? This would feed their natural curiosity, motivate them to study more and inspire them to engage math beyond the basic requirements — surely a more efficient way to spend class time than mindless memorization in preparation for standardized tests.

What is preventing us from doing this?

In my experience, kids are ready for this. It’s the adults that are hesitant.

Read the full article

The reasons for the poor quality in India’s primary and high-school education

Makarand Sahasrabudhe points out the various problems that affect the Indian Education System in answer to a question on Quora. He points out that there are problems with access to schools, for example:

Parents are not certain about the safety of the girl child travelling to school even if it is only 1/2 km away from home.
Apparently simple issues like the need to cross a highway / stream on the way to school keeps kids away.

and with attendance, for example:

[Teachers] are feared by the students and why would they not. In my wanderings around India over 15 years I have seldom seen a classroom where the teacher did not have a cane on the table. There were occasions when he did not have chalk but he always had a cane. I am speaking from the experience of having been in 100s of classrooms across 10 States in India.

And attainment. Here he points out:

The Indian education system was designed by the British rulers to create clerks to help the few thousand British administrators run a country of 40 million people. It was not designed to promote thought and encourage a culture of curiosity

Read the full article. It is interesting, and ends with hope…maybe…