Just as UTSA begins to ramp up its Quantitative Scholarship program to inject mathematical reasoning into every crevice of our curriculum, heretics are beginning to doubt the whole enterprise. Part of the problem is that most remedial and math literacy programs (and textbooks) are filled with bullshit applications and examples (“the rate at which the fluid level in a martini glass will go down”, etc.) that suggest the authors never worked an honest lick in their lives.
Very few people need calculus, but darn near everyone could benefit from knowing the basics of things like the critical path method — planning a move, a wedding, or a family reunion is a major scheduling problem! But we don’t let the quants who know how to make money teach the Great Mathematically Unwashed. Instead we stick ’em in Developmental Math 001 and let teaching assistants torture ’em with (pre)calculus. Then we end up with citizens who get gypped on loans and mortgages, believe in magical thinking about economics, and plan for retirement with lotto tickets. Nice contribution, State U.
I’m going to be really busy the next few years dishing up useful math and statistics that my students will remember long after their final exams. And I expect the Math Mafia to give me no small ration of sh*t for doing so.
Update (5 November). Another sermon to the choir from the Math Mafia.