As a Bachelor of Science degree holder in mathematics, this is one of my pet peeves. Far too many journalists not only don’t understand math, they don’t bother to try. This leads to news and analysis rife with misunderstandings and misapplications of economics and of principles of logic, such as the difference between correlation and causation. This makes it easier for the politicians and special interests to fool the public.

Another of my pet peeves, not mentioned in the commentary, is the idea that girls aren’t expected to do well in math– an idea that my niece believes as much as the idea that comics are for boys only. *grin*

]]>And I’ve never quite figured out why, but some areas of math were difficult for me but others weren’t. For instance, alegbra was, and still is, a bear to me. Geometry and Trig, however, mad a lot more sense. I remember enjoying matrices in Advanced Algebra. Calc I type stuff was difficult, but Calc II was pretty simple. Some of this may have to do with the teacher, but my high school Calculus teacher was a very good teacher, it’s just that limits drove me crazy. So, I earned enough AP credit and placed well enough on my college math exam that I took Trig and Calc II to fulfill my math requirements because I find them easier than Algebra and Calc I.

]]>I also agree with your insight that learning math is like learning a language. I often use that approach when I’m tutoring. Especially in the advanced classes, students have to get used to the notation before they can really grasp the material. I had an advanced physics course that used a lot of Greek letters for variables, and I found it helpful to translate them to English letters when I was doing calculations. Something as simple as that can make a big difference when you’re starting out.

And Dave is right about numeracy. When I was covering local news, I spent a lot of time analyzing things like the city budget, traffic studies, engineering reports, etc. These things have a huge impact on our everyday lives, yet they are easy to dismiss or misinterpret, especially if numbers make your eyes roll up into the back of your head.

]]>What we need is for the same level of attention to be brought to numeracy as to literacy. Or any attention, for that matter.

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