April 2021

Opinion: Rethink How We Teach Math

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Opinion: Rethink How We Teach Math

The COVID-19 pandemic and education shutdown left many educators and parents worried about the amount of time spent outside the classroom and lessons that may not have been absorbed in a learn-from-home environment. 

The greatest concern is how students will learn and retain math, a subject that already suffers learning loss during typical summer breaks. Pamela Burdman, executive director of Just Equations, wrote an op-ed in The Atlanta Constitution-Journal calling for educators and policymakers to prioritize data fluency and advanced math courses relevant to students’ daily lives, rather than sticking to the traditional learning that’s already leaving many students behind. 

Just as reading is essential to our ability to learn, understanding data ensures we can pursue our careers, participate in our communities, and manage our physical and financial well-being. Data science jobs have experienced a sevenfold increase since 2012. That is why the University of Georgia established a new data science program for undergraduates, now in its second year. And the Atlanta University Center recently launched a data science initiative focused on increasing the number of Black data scientists.

Math should help clarify and illuminate—not obfuscate or spark division. A common grounding in mathematical reasoning is part of the fabric of a vibrant civil society. It’s time we rethink how math is taught, prioritizing data fluency.

Rather than continue using outdated math requirements that arbitrarily filter students out of college opportunity and turn students off, let’s support strategies to reengage students in mathematical inquiry and rediscover shared mathematical truth.

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