It’s Time to Start Treating High School Math Like Football

It’s Time to Start Treating High School Math Like Football. By James Miller.

As a skinny, unathletic nerd, I had no desire to play high-school football. Fortunately, no one compelled me to do so. Even if I could have become an adequate player by expending massive effort, much of the time I spent playing would have come at the expense of learning things that were actually useful to my future career.

My high school’s football team, too, benefited from my absence. Helping me would have taken coaching time away from players with real talent and passion for the game. Worse, if everyone received the same level of training, and that training level were calibrated to suit my own limited athletic abilities, better players would have been subject to useless basic instructions and drills. …

American high schools excel at nurturing football talent. … But at the same time, American public schools don’t force anyone to play football. If you’re talented and want to play, there is a strong incentive to do so, since accomplished players get rewarded with social status and gain an advantage in college admissions. But those of us who never play football have other paths to success, and are not considered failures just because we didn’t master the game.

So treat maths like football: optional (past the basics needed for day to day stuff):

I propose that we treat high-school math like football, whereby we encourage and train those with talent, but neither denigrate nor fret over non-participating students. This approach would not only improve math education for those naturally gifted in the subject but also help to save advanced math programs from the progressive reformers who control the commanding heights of American education. …

To improve math education, we need to better tailor the difficulty level of math instruction to each student, which happens to some degree when schools offer different levels of math. But when you do that, you often get classes whose racial composition deviates from that of the school as a whole. i.e., The racial gap gets wider. …

I don’t think substituting another course for math in high school will harm students who lack the desire or ability to have a STEM career — just as it’s perfectly fine to run track instead of playing football. While my son’s planned career in computer programming and AI means he will frequently use advanced math, most adults don’t need to know math much beyond calculating tips and understanding interest rates. …

Students who hate math would love to be free from having to memorize useless (to them) trigonometric functions, geometric proofs, and quadratic equations. …

No skinny white or Asian math nerds here

Like in football, gifts are not handed out equally either to individuals or to racial groups:

An advanced math class whose composition is racially unbalanced constitutes a visible symptom of educational outcome inequality. And the easiest way to erase such a symptom is to eliminate the advanced math class itself. Yes, if you put everyone in the same math course, some groups will on average get lower grades, but grades are mostly kept secret, whereas class composition is out in the open. Furthermore, putting everyone in the same math course will cause the top students to learn less math than they otherwise would, which is bad for the student, but (perversely) a boon for social justice, since it lowers inequality between groups.

For the country as a whole, of course, retarding the math education of the most talented tier of students is catastrophic, as it reduces economic growth and, indirectly, military power. But then again, many of the same progressives who seek to level academic performance also are inclined to downplay the value of economic growth and Western military might. …

We indulge the myth that there is no such thing as a gifted child. … Everyone of common sense knows that this conceit is untrue. But if you find yourself ideologically compelled to profess belief in it (as many progressives are), you will also be required to profess belief in the blank-slate notion that, since everyone has equal natural talent at math, then any group-based statistical variations … must be rooted in discrimination or privilege (and so should not be accepted). …

In the real adult world, success often comes from learning what you are bad at and either avoiding these things entirely, or getting others to help you with them.

The left prefers to believe that all large groups of humans are statistically identical, because it gives them political power: if a group under-performs in some area, it can only be due to discrimination, and that requires corrective discrimination by government, led by leftist bureaucrats on great salaries.

But as known for over a century, in the most studied and measured question in social science, the group of blacks has a significantly lower average IQ than the group of whites, which is slightly lower than the average IQ of the group of North-east Asians. Call it systemic racism if you will, but the solution is not to dumb everyone down to the same level.