Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

To Boost Math and Science, First Revamp the Curricula

February 14, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Proposals for boosting the federal role in improving math and science education seem to be almost entirely addressed to increasing the supply of qualified teachers (“Bush Proposes Steps to Boost Math and Science Teaching,” edweek.org, Feb. 1, 2006). While this would be helpful, a major share of the problem is our math and science curricula. The math curriculum used nationwide delays the acquisition of knowledge, and the science curriculum is taught in an illogical and counterproductive order.

In mathematics, American 8th graders perform poorly on international tests because they have exhausted all possibilities short of algebra by 5th grade, and then spend the next several years stuck in neutral before beginning algebra in 8th or 9th grade. Algebra should start in 6th grade, and build from there.

In science, we teach biology, chemistry, and physics in alphabetical order, when, in fact, physics is the basis for real understanding of chemistry, and chemistry is the basis for real understanding of biology. The current curriculum runs backwards, and almost requires that students simply memorize facts, because the basis for their understanding does not exist.

The flawed math curriculum intersects with the science curriculum when we attempt to teach physics without some calculus. Real physics has not been done without calculus since the early 1700s, which means our instruction is three centuries out of date. Teaching some simple concepts like integrals and derivatives earlier would make physics instruction much better.

A major, nationwide revamping of math and science curricula is as important as teacher qualifications are in achieving real progress in these areas.

Richard J. Weader II

Framingham, Mass.

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Education Civil Rights Groups Sue Tennessee Over Law Against Transgender Student Athletes
The state law bars transgender athletes from playing public high school or middle school sports aligned with their gender identity.
3 min read
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Mark Humphrey/AP