Current events in mathematics point to a growing field with a diversifying range of utilities and practices. The history of mathematics is an interesting dive into the past, present and future. It’s long been one of the most studied disciplines. In fact, it’s older than most other fields of study in general. To be fair, it does date back to the B.C. era. If you dreaded math in school, then you’re not alone.
For years, students have feared math in school. Now, many are finding various ways to enjoy the practice. In college, math students increase yearly as more and more look to enjoy a wide variety of job opportunities. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing majors. Because of its importance, current events in mathematics do a great job at letting people know how the study is changing. Here are five great examples of where the field is heading.
Kentucky Honors Students who Mix Math and Culture to Provide Crucial Solutions
In college, you probably took at least one math class. If you didn’t go to college, but attended high school, you certainly took math courses. Math is a cornerstone to American education, and most programs across the world. It’s an essential part of learning civic duty as well as life skills. If you’re not great at math, you probably look at people who do it professionally and think they’re crazy. Well, in a lot of ways, math takes a different kind of thinking. Formulas and proofs need to be your bread and butter. Kentucky has a math program that’s one of the top schools in the world. A lot of international students head to University of Kentucky for a variety of programs. Like other American universities, the travel is intimidating, but worth it. American universities yield fantastic job prospects and future open doors.
Recently, a few Kentucky honors students made headlines and dominated current events in mathematics and higher education. Two major awards go to University of Kentucky students graduating at the end of the year, and both came from STEM backgrounds. One in particular, who studied math during her time at UK, stayed busy in her four years of college. On top of tutoring in the math lab, she worked as an ambassador for the school, and won a 2016 award for human to human interaction in higher education. Basically, any stereotype of math students being antisocial don’t apply to 2020 graduate Rachel Lietzow.
Making Numbers Fun and Social
Something Lietzow earned her nomination for, among other highlights in her academic career, was her tutoring work with international students. Math, unlike a language or social concept, is universal for many. The important thing to remember about American colleges is that international students come here for school quite often. They’re often hitting the ground in the U.S. for the first time as well. This is overwhelming for just about anyone, as you can imagine. If it seems daunting to go to a party alone, then imagine going to a country alone, for four years. Needless to say, it’s a daunting experience for many.
Lietzow used math during her time in college to communicate with others. Maybe some international students weren’t great with math, but at least they could communicate through the numbers. On top of an amazing grade point average and involvement in school activities, Lietzow won many scholarships and awards during her time at KU.
Bronx Success Academy Aces Math Exams, Despite Being Poorest Area in America
A big intersection between education and success is opportunity. For many, opportunity means a lot of different things. International students come to the United States for opportunity. People move across the country for opportunity. In our own communities, however, opportunity varies. For example, you might have more money than your neighbors. At the same time, the neighbor two doors down has more money than you both. Maybe, enough to send their kids to a private school. Well, the Bronx in New York don’t necessarily have too much variety in opportunity from door to door. The area is among the poorest areas of the United States. Mirrored in that statistic is the low high school graduation rate for Bronx kids and students.
Inside a portion of the Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the United States. It’s there that the Success Academy opened, to ideally help students get a better chance at escaping poverty and failed high school aspirations. So far, it’s working great, and making many headlines in current events in mathematics thanks to some recent test scores. Put all of this together about opportunity and money, and it’s easy to understand that poor areas yield low test scores. Less qualified teachers often find jobs more easily in the poorer areas, and students often have poor home lives to look forward to after school. Well, the Success Academy did its job for a group of 8th graders.
A New Sense of Pride
Ninety percent of the students at the Success Academy qualify for free lunch. The program gives food to kids who can’t necessarily get regular meals at home. This means, on average, these students are going to score lower on math exams. Well, after taking the Algebra I Regency exams, a course designed for high school, the entire 53 student class passed the exam. Not only passed, but scored a 5 out of 5, the highest available score to standardized tests of this sort. If that’s not impressive enough, a total of 99% of Academy students passed state administered exams.
The difference between some schools in poor areas of America and the Bronx based Success Academy is simple: opportunity. These students get resources other low income students do not. Now, the task comes down to translating this opportunity everywhere. That means more money to poorer districts, not the process laid out by No Child Left Behind. If we want positive results, then we have to make positive strides for kids who lack opportunity.
U.S. Place First at 60th International Mathematical Olympiad
The International Mathematical Olympiad takes place every year. At this event, 80 students come to participate in competitions all centered around math. These students, who have already excelled in their national Math Olympiad events, are usually the top two students from the world’s best countries. The event is funded by a ton of different departments and organizations around the world. The United States is on a bit of a burner at these international events. Professor Po-Shen Loh is a leading scholar in the math world, and coaches the United States team. Professor Loh teaches at Carnegie Mellon, who is known for churning out amazing math students.
These competitions yield some really great results for everyone involved. For one, students who win these top awards get courted for Ph. D programs all over the world. One U.S. winner, for example, is heading to the University of Illinois thanks to their performance in past years. It’s also great for schools. If students at different programs, like Carnegie Mellon for example, excel, then incoming college students will likely want to head to those programs. It’s like recruiting at a whole other level. Now, it’s worth noting that these programs do much more recruiting than just these events. Math students know the good programs by the time they start applying. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful getting to show off what an education from your program can do.
U.S. Math Team versus Math Scores Overall
The big thing to keep in mind is the country’s overall math scores. All academic ratings, across levels, are lacking in the United States when compared to other countries. Some countries with GDP data at a fraction of the United Stats score higher in nearly every academic category. To combat this, schools are trying just about everything. So, how is it that the United States math team can do so well in a country that fails so many others. The biggest issue right now is bridging the gap as more and more students seem to fail at math and science. There are a ton of ways to combat low test scores, but it’s hard to understand the best methods when no money or effort gets put back into education.
Nevertheless, the United States math team is thriving. That’s a good thing, and hopefully inspires other students to work hard at the subjects that might be a bit more difficult. Mark it as another win for U.S. math! Always nice to see some good news for current events in mathematics.
Music Participation Heightens Math Scores in Students
Across the country and world, students struggle with math. It’s hard to get kids who struggle with math to enjoy the subject. Current events in mathematics point to, among other things, a slacking national education system. So, what can we do to help revitalize the slouching academic outlook? As it turns out, everyone seems to have an idea. Many suggest the move to charter schools, like the one in the Bronx mentioned above. The issue with this, is the fact that money buys opportunity, and while it’s wonderful to get money to underprivileged areas, it can’t sustain itself for a national education system. Other say we don’t need a national education system at all, but that brings its own issues as well.
Another approach is to look at the way that students learn best. A lot of teaching and learning centers research this topic year round. The goal is always, as it often is in education, to find out how to improve everyone’s experience. The tricky thing, as mentioned throughout these current events in mathematics, is money. So, what non-financial factors help students learn math more adequately. Well, a recent study seems to point to extracurricular activities being a huge part of rising test scores, including in math and science. Music in particular seems to be a huge influence.
Perfect Harmony with Music and Math
The study brings to light an interesting intersection between harder subjects like math and science and the liberal arts. At the collegiate level, these usually do not mix. In high school, however, the study shows that music participation helps keep students up on their grades and homework. Why is this? We know the cognitive process and learning experience of music and math are quite different, so what’s happening here. It turns out that music is just one of the more rigorous extra curricular disciplines, and keeps students on their toes.
The process of learning, practicing, and performing an instrument keeps students engaged. Focus is everything for a high school student. The other thing to note about the study is the type of students who actively look forward to learning an instrument. Many come from backgrounds or homes that encourage participation in things like this, including academic excellence.
So, what happens when a student is not encouraged at home? Well, the easiest solution is to encourage them at school. In fact, many music programs are becoming free to participate in at schools struggling in the basic subjects.
New Dean of Vanderbilt Math College Looks to Reinvent the Way Students Learn the Subject
A lot of this discussion on current events in mathematics has consisted of tradition. The tradition of learning math and teaching it to kids as young as 3 or 4 in educational environments is not new. This is a process that has been developed for a long time now. Well, what happens when some of the traditions are not working well anymore? For example, there’s an odd emphasis on math being rigorous at the college level. Sure, you still have friendly professors and eager students, but what about students who don’t find their love for math until college? Are they doomed to forever hate the field?
Well, one dean at Vanderbilt University is looking into this. The phrase, “I’m not good at math” is the key to her insights on new ways to instruct mathematics in the college classroom. Current events in mathematics always point to people succeeding in math who love math. But, for many college students studying math, they’ve always been good at it. What about the students who seem to struggle at math, and have done so for decades? Are they to be left in the dust? Melissa Gresalfi says no. In fact, her entire career is based on the rejection of that premise.
Making the Most out of Math
Math is not some dry, boring subject, as many often believe. A lot of the hate or dissatisfaction with math comes from what Gresalfi calls mathematical anxiety. The idea of a word like calculus or trigonometry is enough to make some students immediately feel tense and tired. The idea of math, in this sense, is what people hate about math. The way it is taught in K-12 programs is, as the federal and many state governments believe, the best way to go about teaching math. But, then, why do so many seem to feel anxious about it? Not just anxious in some cases, but annoyed, frustrated, or angered by its very existence. That does not facilitate good students, let alone good math scores.
The key to Gresalfi’s approach is the way math gets taught. For many students, the idea of traditional instructional and lecture style math is what seems so frustrating and illogical. Lecturing in general is rejected by many students across subjects. The key then, is to find a way to make math interesting. That can mean a lot of things depending on a student’s interests, and colleges need to be okay with getting creative. That means professors, too.
Mathematics is not the evil practice it is made out to be. For life long strugglers at math, the subject is a signifier for a headache, but with these current events in mathematics pointing to new and innovative trends in the field, hopefully more students come to love numbers. The future is going to need mathematicians just as much as mathematicians need interested students. Hopefully the two continue to grow, for the sake of all higher education.