Hard Numbers, Hard Living

On EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse confronts the challenge of basic math education: “we need to find a balance between hammering the basic skills, while also making it clear that there is so much more to mathematics than arithmetic.”  Rosenhouse rejects the approach of New Math, “teaching grade-schoolers about set theory and the axiomatic method,” instituted briefly in the U.S. after the Soviets launched a giant ball bearing named Sputnik into orbit.  Rosenhouse goes on to question whether teachers should emphasize experimental mathematics, wherein the brute force of computation is used to identify overarching laws and properties.  And in a third post, Rosenhouse explores strategies for making introductory calculus less boring for undergrads.  He writes, “Some rigor must be sacrificed to do what I am suggesting. I have no problem with that. For beginning students, rigor is often the enemy of clarity.”  Finally, on The Pump Handle, Elizabeth Grossman breaks out the calculator to determine what kind of living is possible on a full-time Wal-Mart wage.  A single parent with a child, living in a relatively low-cost area, after paying for rent, utilities, food, public transportation, and income tax, would have about $5 a day left over to pay for child care, internet service, health insurance, clothing, toiletries, further education, a 401k contribution, and anything else.  Grossman concludes, “This is the the kind of challenge facing at least half of Walmart’s 1.3 million US employees.”

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Here is a list of Basic Concept posts in Mathematics. Recently Added: Fractals by Karmen at Chaotic Utopia; Innumeracy by Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math StatisticsNormal Distribution by Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad MathMean, Median and Mode by Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad…
SPECIAL NOTE:This page and its subordinate pages will no longer be updated. See the new page at my new blog for the live version, and change all your subscriptions. Thank you. This is a list of the Basic Concepts posts being put up by Science Bloggers and others. It will be updated and put to the…
I finished Jennifer Ouellette's new book a few weeks ago, shortly after my trip to Alabama, but it's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing it due to a combination of too much work and being a Bad Person. There's finally a tiny break in the storm of work, though, so here's a slightly…
On the shopping day known as “Black Friday,” activists held protests at Walmart stores across the country to protest the company’s low wages. In one of the eight press releases the company issued in the 24 hours between Thanksgiving Day and the close of the November 29 “Black Friday,” shopping day…

Note that the article on Wal-Mart neglects the earned income tax credit of about 2090 per year which reduces the income tax to the neighborhood of $200 per year.
Actually on the topic having folks fill out a full complex tax return by hand (no computer software) would be a very good story problem. (Be sure cases include the various refund levels and invoke all forms). Since what were called story problems when I was in school were harder than the strict calculation problem they need more emphasis.

Aren't the story problems the most g-loaded? That was certainly my impression as a kid (in Denmark).

By Peter Lund (not verified) on 12 Dec 2013 #permalink