Math for democracy

I highly recommend “Mathematics and democracy: the case for quantitative literacy,” published by the National Council on Education and the Disciplines. What they’re calling “quantitative literacy” is very close to what we call “quantitative reasoning” at CSA. This online collection, edited by Lynn Steen, contains 15 articles advocating changes in the standard math curriculum. As Robert Orrill says in the preface:

[T]he consequences of what John Allen Paulos named “innumeracy” (Paulos, 1988) can be profoundly disabling in every sphere of human endeavor — whether it be in home and private life, work and career, or public and professional pursuits. Stating the case in dramatic terms, Lynn Steen warns that “an innumerate citizen today is as vulnerable as the illiterate peasant of Gutenberg’s time” (Steen, 1997). Any such possibility of regress to pre-Enlightenment conditions would be deeply troubling under any circumstances and most certainly is unacceptable in a democracy.

I only wish that the articles pursued their topics in more depth. The entire book contains 115 pages of text, which may sound like a lot but actually only scratches the surface. I suspect that its main purpose to serve as a catalyst for conversation and exploration, and it should serve that purpose well. Take a look at it!

Categories: Math, Teaching & Learning