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Wasting (Almost) Everyone's Time Teaching Lots of Math

Wes BeachA number of claims are made about the value of everyone learning algebra, geometry and more, but I don’t think any of them stand up to scrutiny.

Before I get argumentative, I want to say very clearly and with conviction that math is a powerful tool and a beautiful subject for many people. Some people have a passion for math, and I respect and admire this. Other people need to complete math courses to reach their goals; this is, of course, sensible. It’s just that math isn’t for everyone; lots of it are not needed in most people’s day-to-day lives.

I often hear, In today’s technical world, success at work requires knowing math. I once asked a telephone repair person who was fixing the phone in my office if he had enjoyed high school. Yes, he did, he said. Did you take algebra and geometry? I asked. Yes, I did, he said. Do you use it in your work? No, I don’t, he said.

I asked a former student who is now a nurse if she thought the high school math she learned was necessary in her work. Yes, she said. How long would it have taken you to learn just what you actually use? I asked. A few hours, she replied.

I suspect that most of my readers can’t remember the last time in their adult lives that they factored a trinomial or wrote down anything that involved imaginary numbers.

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Emily Orr's Thesis

Associated School: 

Emily OrrFor the last decade and one year, I’ve been watching students grow up, and have been surrounded by people who have watched me develop over the years.  It’s something I’m so used to. From the day I sat down for my enrollment interview, something felt instantly normal and right. There is something incredibly exciting about the fact that this is what the last eleven years behind me has lead up to.  I initially thought before I sat down to write this that I should probably have a solid idea of what I want out of life first, but I’ve come to realize I can’t precisely know just yet. I need room to explore more before I can pinpoint anything, and I am excited to go out into the world and see what it has to offer me, and what I can make out of it.  I’ve come to the point where I’m ready to explain through words who I’ve become, and who I want to be. What I do know is what I’m passionate about now, and that I’ve attained the skills I need to pursue those passions.  The ability to practice with motivation, to do things on my own, to know my limits while pushing to exceed them, and advocating for my needs or others needs.  Curiosity, problem solving, adaptability, independance, strength, understanding and acceptance of imperfection; These are just some of the skills I have worked to develop and will hold forever.  

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Let's Talk About Screens; "Screen Time" and Self-Directed Education

Associated School: 

There is an ongoing cultural debate about “screen time” and its effects on well-being. Most of the evidence is theoretical or anecdotal; there are no large-scale studies, meta-analyses, or longitudinal studies involving children and touchscreens. The debate is often confounded by the breadth of activity included in the term, “screen time.” This article won’t take a position on whether screen use is inherently good or bad, or on whether “over-use” even exists; instead, it describes how the Self-Directed Education (SDE) environments mitigate the potential of over-use and its associated suite of problems, while also creating a productive space for the “screen time” debate to unfold.

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Contact Us

Hudson Valley Sudbury School

84 Zena Road
Kingston, NY 12401
Phone: 845-679-1002
Fax: 845-679-3874