The Math(s) Fix
Why are we all taught maths for years of our lives? Does it really empower everyone?
Or fail most and disenfranchise many? Is it crucial for the AI age or an obsolete
rite of passage?
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. It argues that today’s maths education is not working to elevate society with modern computation, data science and AI. Instead, students are subjugated to compete with what computers do best, and lose.
This is the only book to explain why being “bad at maths” may be as much the subject’s fault as the learner’s: 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. But it goes further too—for the first time setting 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.
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June 10, 2020 Publication
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Audiobook now available from Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books
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- 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
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.
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
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 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.
Schools around the world teach calculation. But computers do that far better and faster than humans. There's no need to add fractions, teach long division or factor polynomials—let computers do that. . . .That's the conclusion of Conrad Wolfram, Strategy Director at Wolfram Research, the world's leading computational resource, as outlined in his new book, The Math(s) Fix: An Education Blueprint for the AI Age.
Policy makers are beginning to imagine what a modernized math curriculum could look like—one that would acknowledge the prevalence of computers and the importance of data literacy, broaden the pathways to college acceptance, and prepare students for real-life issues. . . . [Conrad Wolfram] says the fundamental problem with today's math curriculum is that it doesn't acknowledge that computers exist.
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's latest book, The Math(s) Fix: An Education Blueprint for the AI Age challenges the conventional wisdom that math is meeting the needs of the world and contends that an entirely new domain should supplant math as we know it. A direction focused on critical and computational thinking and rooted in problem solving for 21st century challenges.
It may not seem like the best time to quibble about curriculum, with so much of education disrupted with the sudden shift to remote teaching. But [Conrad Wolfram] argues that this is exactly the right moment for fixing math. After all, the pandemic is forcing some serious reflections about what's really essential teaching in schools and colleges. And people are taking a fresh look at the question of whether everyone is getting education fairly.
Smart assistants offer instant responses to our questions, but do they create a false sense of certainty? There's a need for what Wolfram calls 'computational thinking'. Wolfram says people and algorithms should work together.
About the Author
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.
- Title: THE MATH(S) FIX: AN EDUCATION BLUEPRINT FOR THE AI AGE
- Author: Conrad Wolfram
- Hardcover: $24.95 332 pages
- Paperback: $19.95 332 pages
- eBook: $14.95
- Audiobook: 8 hours and 38 minutes
- Publisher: Wolfram Media, Inc.
- Publication Date: June 10, 2020
- ISBN-13: 978-1-57955-029-5 (hardcover)
- ISBN-13: 978-1-57955-036-3 (paperback)
- ISBN-13: 978-1-57955-030-1 (eBook)