This month’s column is short on words, because I want to give you time to watch a great video (1 hr 18 min in length) from the recent Aspen Ideas Festival. It’s a panel discussion (actually, two discussions, back-to-back) hosted by New York Times journalist David Leonhardt. The topic is the question that I have chosen as the title for this post: Is math important? What makes this particularly worth watching is the selection of speakers and the views they express.
From the mathematical world there are Steven Strogatz of Cornell University and
Jordan Ellenberg of the University of Wisconsin, and from mathematics
education research there is Jo Boaler of Stanford University. They are joined by
David Coleman, President of the College Board, education writer Elizabeth
Green, author of the recent book Building a Better Teacher, Pamela Fox, a
computer scientist working with Khan Academy, and financier Steve Rattner.
The conversation is lively and informative, and moves along at a brisk, engaging
pace, with each speaker given time to provide in-depth answers (a refreshing
antidote to the idiotic “received wisdom” that today’s viewers are not capable of
watching a video longer than two-and-a-half minutes, a Big Data statistic that
almost certainly says more about the abysmal engagement quality of most
videos than about audience attention span).
That’s it from me. Here is the video.