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MATH: Where’s acclaim for superb students?

Letter by Margaret E. Buchanan, Gig Harbor on April 29, 2013 at 11:27 am | No Comments »
April 29, 2013 2:55 pm

Re: “Praising math successes part of fostering big change” (TNT, 4-24).

I’m a volunteer math mentor for students struggling to pass the state math test in order to graduate, so I read Professor Katie Baird’s column with interest.

Almost every time I volunteer in a math class, I hear the complaint from a student, “I don’t need to know math.” I explain that even if you aren’t planning to be a mathematician or a scientist, math teaches you logic and problem-solving skills that you will use in any walk of life.

Our society has it backwards. We heap praise on sports teams and athletes while ignoring those professions and students that our society truly needs. For examples, look no further than Friday’s newspaper. There is a front-page article about the NFL draft. (“Trufant’s tears bring relief in draft”). The business section of this paper is much smaller than the sports section, and we’re lucky to get one or two science articles a week.

We don’t need sports even though we want them for their entertainment value. We need mathematicians, engineers and scientists to improve our society, yet we don’t acknowledge them in the same way we do athletes.

Schools should provide the funds and support for events like the Washington State Math Council’s Mathematics Contest. Schools should have prominently displayed trophy cases for academic superstars, debate teams, and science and math clubs, just like they do for athletics. Math is needed!

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