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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Give a copy of The Math(s) Fix to your local school superintendent and start a community conversation about how you can make education more relevant and equitable.
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.
Wolfram estimates that about 80% of most math curricula involves rote hand calculations—redundant exercises like long division and exponential functions. Why bother with that mess when a computer can calculate it in seconds and at a much more complex level?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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- page 6: The steps of the computational thinking process
- page 26: Mathematics: abstract, virtual and physical forms
- page 34: Applying computation in different fields
- page 41: The steps of the computational thinking process
- page 43: Step 1: Define
- page 47: Step 2: Abstract
- page 50: Step 3: Compute
- page 52: Step 4: Interpret
- page 53: Conrad Wolfram TED Talk—Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers
- page 53: The computational thinking process
- page 54: University of Oxford
- page 55: The Helter Skelter at St Giles Fair
- page 55: The Helter Skelter at St Giles Fair images
- page 57: Computation is cheap
- page 59: Alternative process conceptualisations
- page 75: computerbasedmath.org
- page 92: Integration basics
- page 95: themathsfix.org/12TimesTable
- page 96: themathsfix.org/PredatorPrey
- page 96: Example of long division
- page 100: Examples of how outcomes fit the process
- page 103: themathsfix.org/Outcomes
- page 104: The 11 dimensions of the draft outcomes
- page 111: The concept of trigonometry
- page 111: Defining concepts and tools
- page 113: Complex linkages between concepts and tools
- page 115: Conceptual stages example
- page 116: Draft curriculum concept list
- page 117: Categories of computation
- page 118: The computational thinking room
- page 119: themathsfix.org/WolframLanguage
- page 129: khanacademy.org
- page 129: themathsfix.org/SeymourPapert
- page 133: Tool centric vs example centric
- page 133: Tool centric vs problem centric
- page 139: Coordinate system example
- page 141: A paper laptop
- page 149: Example questions/issues
- page 149: Example discussion points
- page 150: Example of a complex model
- page 161: themathsfix.org/FeynmanInterview
- page 163: Example of today's CBM layout
- page 164: Terminology: Modules, ontology and primers
- page 169: themathsfix.org/SeeInside
- page 171: 3 Levels of learning support
- page 172: themathsfix.org/InsideModule
- page 177: themathsfix.org/CBMCommunity
- page 188: themathsfix.org/CompulsoryLatin
- page 189: themathsfix.org/DFE2014
- page 200: themathsfix.org/RungeKutta
- page 202: The collapse of significance problem
- page 203: themathsfix.org/OpenSource
- page 205: The steps of the computational thinking process
- page 206: Ambiguity in mathematics
- page 216: timssandpirls.bc.edu
- page 216: oecd.org/pisa
- page 237: Core system and pedagogical layers
- page 255: themathsfix.org/YesPrimeMinister
- page 288: themathsfix.org/Campaign
- page 289: The Maths Fix Campaign for Core Computational Curriculum Change (MFC5)
- page 297: themathsfix.org/WhatCanIDoNow
- page 298: firstname.lastname@example.org
- page 314: conradwolfram.com/media
Chapter 1: Maths v. Maths
Chapter 2: Why Should Everyone Learn Maths?
Chapter 3: Maths and Computation in Today's World
Chapter 4: The 4-Step Maths/Computational Thinking Process
Chapter 5: Hand Calculating: Not the Essence of Maths
Chapter 6: Thinking Outcomes
Chapter 7: Defining the Core Computational Subject
Chapter 8: New Subject, New Pedagogy?
Chapter 9: What to Deliver? How to Build It?
Chapter 10: Objections to Computer-Based Core Computational Education
Chapter 11: Roadmap for Change
Chapter 12: Is Computation for Everything?
Chapter 13: What's Surprised Me on This Journey so Far
Chapter 14: Call to Action