Why Are We Listening to Andrew Hacker?
I wasn’t planning on attending the math education debate hosted by the Museum of Mathematics. I have read, and written, enough about Andrew Hacker and his arguments for ending compulsory mathematics education that I didn’t feel it necessary. But in the end, I decided to go. After all, there’s something inspiring about hundreds of people attending a public debate about mathematics!
As Andrew Hacker laid out his position, he shared his one visual aid with the audience:
Photo Credit: MoMath (link)
He said his argument boiled down to one question: “Why?” As in, “Why does every student in the country, regardless of interest, ambition, or ability, have to take a full sequence of advanced mathematics in school?” It’s not an unreasonable question.
But for me, the real “Why?” question is this: “Why are we listening to Andrew Hacker?” And this question inspired my essay, “When it Comes to Math Teaching, Let’s Listen to Math Teachers“, which I wrote for Math for America’s Teacher Voices blog. Here’s an excerpt:
Andrew Hacker isn’t an expert on mathematics. And he isn’t an expert on math teaching, either. He has every right to voice his complaints, some of which are worthy of consideration, but why has he been given such an enormous platform – high profile Op-Eds, interviews, lectures, a book deal – to address the public about how to “fix” math education?
The fact that Andrew Hacker has such an outsized and undeserved role in steering this conversation is itself one of our problems: we aren’t listening to the right people. If we are really interested in identifying and addressing the problems facing math education today, we should be listening to math teachers.
You can read the entire essay here.
I also live-tweeted the event, along with a few other attendees, using the hashtag #MoMathEdTalk. You can find the tweets here; several interesting conversations ensued.
And for more of my writing on Andrew Hacker, you can start here.
- Who Needs Math? A Student Responds
- Replace Algebra With … Algebra?
- N Ways to Apply Algebra With the New York Times