A formula for changing math education: Arthur Benjamin on TED.com

Posted by: Matthew Trost

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. (Recorded at TED@PalmSprings 2009, February 2009 in Palm Springs, California. Duration: 2:59)

Short URL: http://on.ted.com/1G

* Don’t miss this short comment by Arthur Benjamin, given just after his talk on math and education at TED@PalmSprings.

Watch Arthur Benjamin’s talk from TED@PalmSprings 2009 on TED.com where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 450+ TEDTalks.

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Comments (5)

  • CHANCHAL DASS commented on Nov 18 2013

    Whole world is suffering in math phobia and many professionals are trying to make math easy. Arthur Benjamin is one of them. But what he is professing will not going to make math easy. Doing slow math is not a problem. Real problem is the understanding of the underline concept behind the math.

  • Pingback: Why Calculus still belongs at the top | Random Walks

  • commented on Nov 28 2011

    I also disagree with pushing statistics as the new pinnacle. In Canada we have re-branded the lower level Math as consumer math. To me this is just lowering the curriculum instead of raising the expectations of the students. Was Trig ever going to be directly applicable? No.

    I believe Math is about learning to create abstractions and problem solve in a formal system. The application is a small part of this. If you can do Calculus, you can definitely do Statistics. The same can’t be said for the other way around.

    I guess it all depends on what we are trying to help grow. Do we want people who can count change and percent discounts at the store or perhaps something more. Curing Cancer isn’t going to happen by learning about linear Math like statistics.

  • darman raj commented on Jul 27 2009

    Many non-trivial applications of statistics require some knowledge of calculus, at least in maximizing probabilities of events, if you are not thinking about ways to define appropriate measures on complicated probability spaces

  • Rob Culpepper commented on Jul 2 2009

    As a high school teacher I agree that calculus is not as relevant to the digital age as statistics. It is far more important to understand standard deviations than derivatives. However, I would say that mathematics as it relates to micro- and macroeconomics is even more important. Our students leave high school without knowledge of taxes, GDP, credit card interest rates, Roth IRAs, return on investment, etc. If the math curriculum in our schools was more focused on real-world applications we might be in a better economic situation right now. To me it is more valuable to our society to have a graduate truly understand the power of compound interest rather than the margin of error in a political poll.