How math prepares students for the digital era

How math prepares students for the digital era

The world is changing at a fast pace. Computers are taking over almost every aspect of life. Some people have even expressed worry over machines taking over work that was previously done by man. With these changes, several questions have been asked in regard to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Should the curriculum be changed so that it is aligned with the digital demands? How practical is the curriculum as it is taught now? These are some of the questions being raised by students, parents and teachers when it comes to math.

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In their article on link.springer.com, Kaeno Gravemeijer et.al discusses the importance of students acquiring 21st century skills even if the math is taught in the same way it was done before computers and technology took root.

Training students to think like mathematicians instead of simply solving math problems

“This paper attempts to engage the field in a discussion about what mathematics is needed for students to engage in society, especially with an increase in technology and digitalization. In this respect, mathematics holds a special place in STEM as machines do most of the calculations that students are taught in K-12”. Read more here

Math qualifies as a life skill because it is understood the same way universally. It does not need to be translated for someone who speaks a different language. 2+2 = 4 world over. The methods used to solve the problems are the same. The only difference is how students are helped to integrate the lessons learnt in class with the happenings around the world. How, for example, can one relate the cost of a barrel of crude oil with that of refine fuel in one’s country? Can a student show the relationship between the rise in prices and cost of living? Students need to be able to reason beyond basic math if they are to be able to use the concepts learnt in class for their daily living.

This article by Amelia Teng discusses further the importance of students being able to reason out and adopt the use of math in their lives.  

Steps to take when preparing math students for a digitalized society

“Mathematics in school is no longer just about adding things up, but more about getting a student to think like a mathematician. For instance, students could be asked to evaluate the most cost-effective mobile phone plans for classmates based on their different usage patterns.”In the past, students were taught just facts and formulae. Now, we try to give them learning experiences” Read more here

Even as the world becomes more digital, certain things have remained the same. Consumers are still considered to be rational. Understanding math will help student evaluate the risks they take and determine if they are worth it or not. Math is not just about finding solutions but evaluating if the process used is going to help one come to the right conclusion.