In AP Calculus today, we discussed how our U.S. society often discourages math achievement. For example, we have a tendency to call those interested in math-related subjects “geeks” or “nerds”. Many people almost brag about their math deficiences (“I never was good at math”), although by contrast, most people who are functionally illiterate take great pains to cover up their lack of education. This trend appears to be changing for the better. Math achievement is treated much more positively in popular media, and enrollment in courses such as AP Calculus and AP Statistics is increasing.
After the morning’s discussion, I came across this article: U.S. math students show improvement, but still lag behind internationally.
Thomas Friedman, in his thought-provoking book The World is Flat, (which every high school/college student should read, IMHO) writes the following advice to his own daughters: “Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner—people in China and India are starving.’ My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework—people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”
Another quote from the book: “Remember, in China when you are one in a million, there are 1,300 other people just like you.”
In other words, I hope you’re doing your homework.