Book Review: The Math(s) Fix - Part 2 of 2
In the last instalment, I reviewed Conrad Wolfram's diagnosis of what is wrong, or outdated, about Maths education today. In this second part, I will review his "Math(s) Fix".
Context is King!
A concept that recurs throughout this part of the book is that of "context-based learning". In fact, the program Wolfram proposes presents all materials in one of two kinds of contexts:
- Primary Contexts: These are key areas that will remain applicable for students even after leaving school. E.g. "When to take up insurance".
- Secondary Contexts: These are contexts that are useful to engage students in learning mathematical tools but that are not likely to be of use to them beyond their schooling.
- when the contexts are as real as possible, the data will be messy. This provides an incentive to use, in the classroom, the tools that are used in the real world, namely computers and software.
- It teaches the student to choose the tools that are most appropriate for the problem. In the current, tool-centric approach, exercises are designed to practice the skill that has just been taught. Students know this and don't develop the ability to look at a problem and then reach for their toolset for help.
How do you assess it?
The 5 groups
- Data Science
- Information Theory
- Architecture of computation
Best test of understanding
"When you have to write a computer program, you need to make sure that you understand every step of your solution to the problem because you have to teach that step to the computer."