Tag Archives: k-12

Do required math courses increase your earnings?

So says Josh Goodman at the Kennedy School:

I identify the impact of math coursework on earnings using the differential timing of state-level increases in high school graduation requirements as a source of exogenous variation. The increased requirements induced large increases in both the completed math coursework and earnings of blacks, particularly black males. Two-sample instrumental variable estimates suggest that each additional year of math raised blacks’ earnings by 5-9%, accounting for a large fraction of the value of a year of schooling. Closer analysis suggests that much of this effect comes from black students who attend non-white schools and who will not attend college.

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Help me be a great Nim teacher

I’ll be at Marvelous Math Morning at CJ’s school this Saturday, playing Nim with kids ranging from K-5.  One simple goal is to teach them the winning strategy for the version of the game where there’s one pile and each player can draw 1 or 2 chips.  I’ve done that with CJ and he really liked it — and I think the idea of a perfect strategy is one of those truly deep mathematical concepts that even little kids can grasp.

But what else should I do?  What other Nims and Nimlikes should I teach these kids and what lessons should I try to impart thereby?

Update:  First two commenters both mentioned Tic-Tac-Toe.  At what age do kids typically learn how to play Tic-Tac-Toe and at what age have they learned a perfect strategy?  CJ is in kindergarten and has not seen this, or at least he hasn’t seen it from me.  I’ll ask him tonight.

Update:  Nim a success!  I played mostly one-pile, and the kids were definitely able to grasp pretty quickly the idea of winning and losing positions, and the goal of chasing the former and avoiding the latter.  I didn’t encounter anyone who’d played nim before.  I felt some math was transmitted.  Mission accomplished.

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Where is the deadwood in the K-12 math curriculum?

Interesting discussion at Andrew Gelman’s blog, touched off by Mark Palko’s (justified, in my view) condemnation of synthetic division.  I don’t have enough experience of the high school curriculum to have an informed opinion, myself, but this seems a good place to say that I’ve been delighted with the math materials that CJ brings home from kindergarten.  They do a lot of histograms; going around surveying other kids (sample topics:  how many letters in your name?  what is your favorite color of leaf?) and then making a bar graph of the result, sometimes constructing the bar itself as a stack of kids’ names.  It’s very concrete; it weaves the math in with other parts of the curriculum; it makes it very apparent how to answer questions like “what color of leaf is most popular?” by inspection of the graph.  I’m into it.  Use the comment box to tell me what parts of K-12 math should be expunged, what math activities you like for kindergartners, etc.


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