My answer to "Describe a problem you see in your city, state, or country that you believe could be solved with science, math, or existing technologies."

Note by Taylor Lau
5 years, 8 months ago

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Hello Taylor,

I understand you are very passionate. I would like to make a few points in this occasion:

• It is very debatable that what is good for the society: a strict education system or a lenient one. There are pros and cons for both and thus grown-ups holding important chairs in office (who apparently seem to do nothing good for the country) are bound to choose a middle path.

• At your age, revolutionizing an entire system may seem easy and just lacking leadership, enthusiasm and encouragement, but in reality its a heck of a mammoth job.

• I assure you people (and really smart ones) are constantly thinking ways to improve (rather than completely change) the system. Recently there were talks of removing Algebra from the US curriculum, but the idea was temporarily scrapped following huge protest from the mathematical community.

• About what you said, students not understanding concepts, there'll always be such students in an average class; it doesn't matter much on the teaching. You should care the least. Why do care "how" someone earns his grades. And if you want people like Gabrielle Carroll teaching in every school of the country, small or big, then well that's an American Dream!

• These people are not very interested in increasing the number of perfect scorers in IMO from their country. Instead they would love if there's even 1% increase in the number of female candidates taking up Mathematics in PG level and 1% decrease in the number of college dropouts. In short, they're thinking big and are more interested in research, delivering quality education rather than competition. They are thinking what is the minimum math one should know to lead his daily life.

• Also, I personally believe with Mathcounts, KhanAcademy, AoPS, Brilliant blog, Awesomemath, etc a good student can pick the competition requirements, providing enough retardation to your "snowball effect".

@Priyankar and Sambit, our condition cannot be compared to theirs. Our problem at the end of the day boils down the problem of bread-earning, a stupefying plebianistic rat-race, a third-world crisis.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

1. (Related to Point#5): So is what's happening good or bad? What should a country give importance to more- improving the quality by increasing the competition among the students or increasing accessibility to education?

2. You are right. I agree. At the end of the day, in our country, it's about the earning. That's why most of us give our sweat to IIT..to get a job with a good pay package, though there are some of us who really are interested in advancing the field of engineering.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

There'll always be Martin Gardner(s) regardless of the quality of education they receive, but I think at this stage it is more important to make educated gardeners.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

Ever since first or second grade, I've had a difficult time knowing whether I liked math because I was good at it or if I was good at it because I liked it. It certainly helped that I had parents who fostered mathematical growth at such a young age with the educational games that were available at the time (number munchers, number rescue, math blaster). I played for hours each day in my mother's office while she worked.

Perhaps I was born with a mathematical mind. I'd rather not muddy the issue by speculating about nature versus nurture. But I will concede that I might not have developed a love for math if not for these games. To expand on Taylor's thoughts, I'm convinced that educational games are one of the best ways of breaking the never ending and somewhat failed cycle of worksheet-homework-test. Gamification may not be a panacea, but middle and high school math competitions are the earliest such stages to demonstrate skill for enjoyment! Calculating though it may sound, exposure to the operant conditioning of "work hard for fun rewards" is a virtue young minds should learn and a lesson best taught through games.

Did anyone else play mathematical games when they were young?

- 5 years, 8 months ago

if u think learning is bad in USA,you would see hell in were I live, my maths teacher can't solve a 75 point problems,which I have no problem,

frankly,I go to school,and return without even listening

- 5 years, 8 months ago

I feel u bro.. Wow first Ethiopian I met on this site!Where do you go to?

- 5 years, 8 months ago

the problem is not specific to america, it is prevalent in india too. Your suggestions are quite strong.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

I strongly agree with you. The common notion is that the quality of education degraded considerably when the government commercialised education. Most students prefer rote learning against understanding of concepts. This way students pass the high school exams but later it creates great difficulty for them.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

i agree with you.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

India has a very good high school course , mate!

- 5 years, 8 months ago

But still, I'm not satisfied with content of math course in India.

- 5 years, 8 months ago

No way. We ranked last but one in PISA just above Kyrgyztan. USA ranked 24 or something and China was first I guess (try finding out about PISA using Google).

- 5 years, 8 months ago