The Math(s) Fix

The Math(s) Fix

The Math(s) Fix: An Education Blueprint for the AI Age is a groundbreaking book that exposes why maths education is in crisis worldwide and how the only fix is a fundamentally new mainstream subject. Engaging and accessible yet deep and compelling, The Math(s) Fix argues that today's maths education isn't working to elevate society with modern computation, data science and AI. Instead, students are subjugated to compete with what computers do best, and lose.

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This is the only book to:

  • Explain why being "bad at maths" may be as much the subject's fault as the learner's.
  • Show how a stuck educational ecosystem has students, parents, teachers, schools, employers and policymakers running in the wrong direction to catch up with real-world requirements.
  • Set out a completely alternative vision for a core computational school subject to fix the problem and seed more general reformation of education for the AI age.

This is the only book to:

  • Explain why being "bad at maths" may be as much the subject's fault as the learner's.
  • Show how a stuck educational ecosystem has students, parents, teachers, schools, employers and policymakers running in the wrong direction to catch up with real-world requirements.
  • Set out a completely alternative vision for a core computational school subject to fix the problem and seed more general reformation of education for the AI age.
I sometimes describe my job as computation for everyone through smart automation; between our efforts and others', it's worked remarkably well. The world is dramatically more computational than 30 years ago across an enormous range of fields. Except in education. Hence my evening job—and the subject of this book—which I sometimes describe as optimising everyone for computation through computational thinking.

CONRAD WOLFRAM is cofounder and CEO of Wolfram Research Europe. Over the last 30 years he has been a key part of the technology transformation that has brought maths, computation and data science to the forefront of today's world and moved us towards the fourth industrial revolution. Conrad regularly appears in the media to speak about subjects ranging from the computational future and artificial intelligence to twenty-first-century education. His team's work to build a solution started in 2010 when computerbasedmath.org was founded—this book being a key milestone in the journey to fundamental reform.

Conrad Wolfram

What Is The Math(s) Fix?

This book is about what the problem is, how it came about and how it can be solved. It takes a cold, hard look at what maths education is and lays out what it should be, not only to keep up with AI, but to empower humankind for this upcoming era.

The Problem

The maths taught around the world today does not fit how it is used in the real world. Computation technology is more accessible than ever before, but no curriculum in the world assumes it exists. Instead it is focussed on the mechanics of hand calculation, rather than the essence of real-world maths.

The Fix

The fix is a new core computational subject that is built on actual problems solved by real people in the real world with today's technology. A computer-based maths curriculum should be built around real-world requirements such as data science, information theory and modelling.

Achieving Change

Enabling transformation of this scale is no easy task. This part of the book addresses common objections, sets out a roadmap for change and analyses where computational thinking works, as well as its limitations, an essential part of empowering society to question the world around it.

Get a quick overview on how to achieve change: CBM: The Change

Praise for The Math(s) Fix

Conrad Wolfram is one of the most important mathematical thinkers of our time. This book is packed with incredible ideas that could fundamentally change the mathematics experience for students across the world. The vision Conrad puts forward will allow students to experience mathematics as a beautiful, exciting subject empowering them to use critical and computational thinking, solving the problems they will encounter in their 21st-century work and lives.
—Jo Boaler, author of bestseller Mathematical Mindsets:
Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math,
Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching
Many are convinced that computers have pushed school maths ever closer to a cliff-edge falling into irrelevance. Almost uniquely, Conrad Wolfram's book offers a bold move forward. Based on both his experience and insight, he encourages us to 'jump into the unknown' and move from teaching computing skills to promoting computational thinking. He has pioneered this concept and drawn a compelling roadmap to overcome the deadlock, giving our students truly empowering maths skills.
—Jaak Aaviksoo, former Minister of Education, Estonia
A devastating assault on this parody of modern education comes from the information technology radical, Conrad Wolfram. Called The Math(s) Fix, it portrays maths as a subject which, perhaps like others, is trapped in the pre-computer age. Wolfram portrays maths exams as like taking a driving test with a horse and cart. It needs to take over where the computer leaves off, in a world of calculated uncertainty, risk and, dare we say it, common sense.
—Simon Jenkins, journalist and BBC broadcaster, The Guardian
Rethinking how we teach an established and mainstream subject such as maths is fraught with danger. But The Math(s) Fix achieves this with such elegant and persuasive arguments that it is impossible to ignore. Essential reading.
—Martyn Farrows, COO, SoapBox Labs
Maths is the weak link in every school. Progressive efforts at education reform are impossible without addressing this reality and offering a new diet of mathematics for children. [In this book] Conrad Wolfram makes an important contribution to this effort by making the case, not just for new pedagogical strategies, but also by sharing a vision of computationally rich mathematics experiences accessible to learners of all ages. Reinvent school maths and you change the world!
—Gary Stager, Ph.D., teacher educator and co-author of
Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom
In this refreshingly irreverent, immensely readable and long-overdue book, Conrad Wolfram makes an utterly convincing case for maths—but as a newly configured computational subject with an ever growing justification—for individuals and society, spanning survival, subsistence and enrichment. Whether you are a policy maker or practitioner, parent or pupil—The Math(s) Fix will change your idea what maths can be forever.
—Silke Ackermann, Director History of Science Museum, University of Oxford
Many global and local experts talk about the importance of maths teaching in schools. However, Conrad Wolfram has developed a model that is genuinely transformational. The Math(s) Fix is provocative and pragmatic at the same time, providing a globally applicable solution to how we should teach maths to equip our young people for the future they will face. I would encourage everyone who cares about maths education to read this book... political leaders, government officials, school leaders and teachers.
—Sonia Sharp, former Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education, Victoria, Australia
In The Math(s) Fix Conrad Wolfram makes a compelling case that the way we teach mathematics is no longer fit for purpose. Rather than teaching young people to think like mathematicians we are trying and largely failing to train them to become suboptimal calculators. The solution is simple and elegant: refocus the math(s) curriculum away from calculating towards the full suite of computational thinking, identifying the right questions to ask, setting up the process for finding the solution, and analysing and interpreting the results. The Math(s) Fix deserves to be widely read by education policymakers and practitioners, and the public at large.
—Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)
Conrad lays out a clear vision for how we can transform mathematics—from a subject that terrifies many students, to one that inspires and is universally applicable. Rather than simply memorising procedures, we should allow students to harness the power of computers and develop completely new ways of thinking.
—Philipp Legner, founder of Mathigon.org
I never enjoyed maths until Conrad taught me its beauty and how I could apply it to my passions. Traditionally taught in schools like a dead language, we spend years training to compete with machines. In an era of AI the machines will win unless we reimagine what maths can be, where present and future generations harness its power to solve our most important challenges. This book tells us how.
—Graham Brown-Martin, broadcaster and author of Learning {Re}imagined
Seymour Papert often said that his goal was to create a more 'learnable and lovable mathematics.' He wanted to put children in a better position to do mathematics rather than just learn a collection of mathematical facts. In this book Conrad is continuing the endeavour. Conrad understands, as Seymour did, that computation is key.
—Artemis Papert, independent artist
Wolfram does an effective job of analyzing the problems with contemporary math education, and he makes a strong case for change. His writing is strong and often clever... and it makes for enjoyable reading on what might ordinarily be a dry subject. Wolfram will likely persuade many readers that, in 2020, using computers for calculation gives students room to focus on broader questions. ... A solid and thoughtful educational analysis.
—Kirkus Reviews