Let’s Make Math an Olympic Sport

What’s the most common American fan image after a victory by the home team? I’d say it’s this:

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And very often, in sports, that’s what we are. Even in sports we don’t follow very much we want to see an American somewhere on the Olympic podium to receive a medal.

It feels good to win. It is good for our national and individual self-esteem and even for the bank accounts of professional players and gamblers who guess correctly. Losing isn’t good. We’re Americans so we win! But we lost?  . . .Our brains cant handle the dissonance. So we say, “It’s not a real sport (while still believing that golf is) or “It’s boring” or “The rules are stupid”.  All of this thought and emotion being dedicated to activities that in the end don’t mean a thing.

Things that truly matter and affect our collective future don’t get nearly as much attention. Education is a perfect example. Yeah, domestically, schools are high on the list of essentials for parents with young and not so young children. Families move in to towns and neighborhoods only because “the schools are great.” University rankings trump cost and distance factors for families that have a little extra in the bank.

But what about international rankings? In which countries are students receiving the best education, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

Looking at math for the answer, we find that we couldn’t show our ranking by using the fingers of both hands. So we take of our shoes and socks, adding toes to fingers. Nope, still no good. We must also add our four limbs, two ears and nose to get it right.

Twenty-six countries do better than we do. We’re number 27. ( Courtesy of PEW Research Center, Fact Tank, Feb, 2015).

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This is downright scary! It shows why many good jobs are sent overseas and why so many foreign citizens get work visas to come here for jobs that our young grads just can’t do.

Jeez, who knows, this may even be more important than the Super Bowl, half-time show included.

In the next couple of posts I’ll try my best to see how we got here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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