We know our math scores aren’t competitive with other developed countries. We all know someone, or we may be someone, who dislikes math. But why does an interest in math matter? Yes, being competitive in the global arena is crucial for our nation’s advancement. Yes, taking a math course is required to graduate. But math helps individuals accomplish much more than an “A” on their exam.
On the most basic level, learning math promotes analytical thinking skills. Dr. Vinod Menon, professor of psychiatry and neurological sciences at Stanford University, has conducted research illustrating how one year of math instruction has significant impact on the brain’s approach to problem-solving as revealed through brain scans of second and third graders.1 As students move through math curricula from elementary to high school, they must learn to apply what they know to new ideas and different types of problems, building more complex thinking processes. Years of math where students work through steps, identify patterns, and apply complex thought processes hardwires the brain for deeper level thinking.
The achievement gap between low- and high-income students is 30-40 percent higher for students born in 2001 than those born 25 years earlier, according to the National Summer Learning Association. The stigma of summer school is changing as experts find that summer learning losses continue to divide opportunities between low- and high- income students and that students can’t afford to unlearn knowledge every summer as our world standing in education continues to slip.
ACT Inc. just announced they are developing new assessments aimed at students between 3rd and 10th grade to test their college and career readiness skills. Many states are pushing for more students to leave school with the skills they need to succeed in college and career and ACT believes their new series, to be launched in 2014, will be the answer.
In a competitive global market the soon-to-be college graduate and new professional needs to know their unique talents and abilities in order to stand out from the crowd. Our economy is recovering slowly; a shift in our schools and colleges can set new expectations to better prepare graduates for workforce realities. Many K-12 schools, whether out of choice or necessity, still teach to standardized tests and curriculums. However, the new professional is anything but standardized. The new professional is self-aware, stands out because of their ability to develop unique strengths, can connect their education to their career, is fully integrated into traditional and digital communication, and understands how to use personal discipline for professional advantage. If there isn’t enough time to emphasize this model in class, teachers can emphasize the importance of this exposure out of class. Read the rest of this entry »
How do you use critical thinking in your adult life? Do you wish you would have had better critical thinking skills when you made a decision in your youth? How did you learn to think critically?
Critical thinking skills aren’t only for the classroom and opportunities to teach students critical thinking skills are by no means limited to classroom, either. In Oregon and Washington, students in kindergarten through high school recently played in the 46th annual Oregon Chess for Success state tournament. Chess for Success has participated in research that found chess can improve critical thinking skills, according to the article “Students learn more than checkmates with Chess for Success.” Read the rest of this entry »
In 2011, an unprecedented study found forty-five percent of students made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college. Many were stunned by the number of college students entering and graduating from college without critical thinking skills, a core 21st century skill necessary for making smart personal and professional decisions. Read the rest of this entry »