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Mathematics education: Calculus or statistics?

July 13, 2009

The attracting force of all mathematics education should be shifted from calculus to probability and statistics.  Advanced mathematics students in high school should be taking Pre-stats instead of PreCalc or APStats instead of APCalc. Arthur Benjamin nails it in this TED talk.  This point is vital for competing successfully in the future. It is important for our business decision makers, community planners, disaster planners, economic and political strategists, and all consumers of democracy, investment products, real estate and career opportunities.  It is key to understanding uncertainty and risk. The amount of data we have on our complex world is only an advantage is we know what to do with it, how it tells stories of causation and optimal decisions.  I love teaching calculus and admire its deep relation to fundamental physical laws, but I want to live in a world shaped by the voices of many skilled statisticians.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 7:18 pm

    Related: a story yesterday at the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/technology/06stats.html?_r=2&em

    Like

  2. August 8, 2009 9:01 am

    I’ve been leaning towards this myself. I agree that probability and statistics are more important than calculus.

    Like

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