Arthur Benjamin: Drop calculus, mainstream statistics
29 Jun 2009

Arthur Benjamin: Drop calculus, mainstream statistics

A short video with a compelling argument

29 Jun 2009

A short video with a compelling argument from TED:

Someone always asks the math teacher, “Am I going to use calculus in real life?” And for most of us, says Arthur Benjamin, the answer is no. He offers a bold proposal on how to make math education relevant in the digital age.

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  1. juani July 2nd, 2009 3:23PM

    This man is completely wrong!

    Statistics divide into two parts:

    * The first part is extremely simple, and is already taught in most countries (mean, median, deviation…)
    * The second part consists of hypothesis checking, confidence intervals and stuff like that, that is absolutely useless to understand the world. Those constructions are just arbitrary constructions created for setting standards for scientific research in the social sciences, some will argue that will little success.
    * The really interesting part of statistics cannot be taught without calculus, or actually in secondary school whatsoever.

    Probability consists of discrete and continuous probability.

    If you completely remove calculus, the students will not understand gaussians, even though they might use them, but then knowing only gaussians, or a handful of distributions for the sake of it, without the proper foundations only means it will not be mathematics, it will not be formative and thought-provoking, but just a collection of tools from which to choose the wrong one when need arises.

    Discrete probability is very nice and formative, but rather academic. Counting the probability of having a full house in the first round is great fun, but it’s far less useful than calculus.

    I don’t find any problem, however, in teaching more discrete mathematics. The world has turned from analogic to digital, but that has nothing to do with statistics! So I’d understand, maybe even support, a shift to teach more algorithms and discrete mathematics, but asking for more statistics based on that argument seems to me a blatant falacy.

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