First, it is the easiest subject of all! Math textbooks, lesson planning, teaching, exercises, assessments, etc., are all completely wrong.
Second, math is now the 'social and professional oxygen.' No one can be left behind in math. Mr. Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys (a leading IT services company), reportedly said, "In God we trust. For everything else, bring me data." Every aspect of life and work is getting digital and higher sci-tech with each passing day. Even a retouch on a piece of art is getting to be making some pixels more pronounced than others.
Third, math is so rooted in everyday life that all adults can excel in math, irrespective of their educational background. Everyone can excel in math much sooner than later.
And 'Mathematics as a language' is the most significant educational discovery ever; all of humanity will finally be formally educated in an equal-opportunity education system for every child in the world.
The catalytic impact of quality math education!
Indeed, the only feasible and fail-safe way to kick start the much needed enable parents is to empower every parent in their children's math education. 'Mathematics as a language' is just that math. No parents will be left behind!
At the level of students, struggle in math is a sure uncherished childhood! For a few, 'Poor in math at school' may turn into a kind of boast for much of their adult life, but no one has fond memories of being poor in math at school.
For the parents, children's struggle in math education is a loss of face (unprecedented helplessness in helping children), loss of many career options for children, costly and necessary supplementary education, and a stressed family environment.
For society, nation and government, poor math education is the biggest challenge in moving into the 'Fourth Industrial Society. It is the most severe handicap in making every adult productive and to enjoy dignified citizenship. Not surprisingly, democracy is globally in turmoil; people with college/university degrees are almost unemployed and dissatisfied with their present & future.
For schools, nothing seems to stem the increasing stress in teaching and learning math. It also affects success in science education, preparation for higher education, and many career opportunities. Above all, poor quality math education is the most significant contributor to schools' low sentiments as impactful social institutions. And we know, sentiments matter far more than fundamentals (even in the top echelons of finance).
Success in math will trigger an avalanche of confidence and delight for children, parents, society, governments, and set the stage for the genuinely inclusive next revolution.
Excellence in math education is the only first step ahead.
What is mathematics?
'What is math?' remains unanswered in the 14-year school education. Worse, a good majority of parents, students, teachers, school leaders, and policymakers do not even want the answer; math is 'not for them.'
A simple definition in the (Indian) National Education Policy (draft), 2019:
- Counting (number system)
- Problem solving
Mathematics is NOT arithmetic, and school arithmetic is NOT even arithmetic!
Even the arithmetic is too restricted, e.g., a method each for operations.
No wonder most children struggle in math.
For each of the four stage, the 'base curricula' for math is as under:
- Foundations of mathematical thinking
- Foundations of mathematical quantification
- Foundations of counting, measurement
- Foundations of numbers, number names
- Foundations of number play, problem solving
- Foundations of visual, spatial reasoning
- Foundations of addition
- Foundations of multiplication
- Foundations of subtraction
- Foundations of division
- Foundations of numbers
- Foundations of measurement
- Foundations of advanced number concepts