The NCTM president Michael Schaughnessy wrote this message to lead off this month's NCTM Summing Up newsletter:
Some Thoughts on Calculus and a Thank You!
Calculus is often viewed as the entry path to college mathematics. However, a high school calculus course should not be the be-all and end-all of mathematics, nor should it be the only transition path from high school to college mathematics. High school mathematics should prepare students not just for further, specialized study in mathematics but also for the variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers and other professions that will be open to them in the future. Recently NCTM and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) crafted a new joint position statement on the role of calculus in the transition from high school to postsecondary mathematics. [...]
Both NCTM and the MAA have found evidence that there are a number of strong mathematics students who successfully finish calculus before or in college and then happily announce that they “never have to take another math course!” As a result, we are losing large numbers of highly qualified mathematics students very early in their college careers. Many of these students are strong candidates for possible STEM careers—some of our best students, in fact. Also, we may be turning a number of potential mathematics students off by pushing them through years of a repetitive and overly narrow, algebra-focused mathematics curriculum, which doesn’t give students sufficient opportunities to broaden their horizons in other areas of mathematics, such as in various geometries, discrete mathematics, statistics, or linear algebra (February 2011 President’s Message, “Endless Algebra,” also discussed this pitfall). Read the entire message.From "Endless Algebra" (Michael Schaughnessy, 2011):
[...]The Common Core State Standards provide us with an opportunity to rethink the sequence of school mathematics, as well as a challenge to provide exciting new pathways and transitions from high school to college mathematics. We need to offer students alternative pathways as they make their transition from secondary school and into colleges. The mathematics paths that we provide for our students need to prepare them for existing fields that are changing rapidly, as well as for emerging fields—and for fields that don’t yet exist. In my view, the current deadly sequence of ever-repetitive and out-of- touch experiences in algebra—the sequence intended to lead students to a single variable calculus course—will not accomplish this goal. It is time that we replace the eternal algebra transition from high school to college with some viable and exciting 21st century mathematics alternatives.[...]
For me this change is long overdue. What are your thoughts?cc blog 105