Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | July 6, 2018

My answer to a question on Quora:
Why is mathematical illiteracy socially acceptable?

Because what is known as “mathematical literacy” is economically redundant: having it, or not having it does not affect earnings of 95% of people. An ever decreasing pool of jobs which require “mathematical literacy” is filled (at least in Britain) by recruiting university graduates from mathematics-intensive disciplines, like mathematics, or physics, or electronic engineering. These jobs require no more than basic school level mathematics skills which are supposed to be given to every school leaver. However, big employers do not trust school marks, and rightly so.

However, a small number of professional occupations require knowledge of mathematics far beyond “mathematical literacy”. Critically, form nay nations, this is the defense and security sector.

The summary: everyone is taught mathematics at school not for his/her personal advancement and enjoyment, but for alleged future employment – which is a fiction for majority of learners. This is misselling of “educational product” on a grandiose scale. Wide acceptance of “mathematical illiteracy” is a natural, and healthy, reaction of the society to this scam. I support the idea that mathematics has to be taught as music: for learner’s enjoyment and personal development, without any promise of future employment in “music-intensive industries”. This will make mathematics more popular — and much more expensive to teach, which, of course, kills this idea at its roots.

I apologise fro plugging my papers, but they contain more on that:

I apologise fro plugging my papers, but they contain more on that:

Mathematics for makers and mathematics for users, bit.ly/2qYHtst

Calling a spade a spade: Mathematics in the new pattern of division of labour, goo.gl/TT6ncO

Perhaps I have to add adisclaimer:

Views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent position of my employer, or any other person, corporation, organisation, or institution.

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