Released Today: The Math(s) Fix
June 10, 2020 — Conrad Wolfram, Strategic Director, European CEO/Cofounder, Wolfram Research
Wolfram Research has always believed in the power of computation to deliver better decisions. But there are two sides to achieving this: not only the best computational technology but also the best education for computational thinking.
After more than 15 years of conceptualising the idea, 10 years of build-out and 2 years of writing and editing, I have assembled The Math(s) Fix: An Education Blueprint for the AI Age (or TMF for short) and thrown it out to the world today in ink and e-ink.
So what have I done? Propose a fundamentally new core computational subject at school with a changed assumption: computers exist and students should use them. Not just use them for remote learning or improved pedagogy but for the subject they were born out of and have rocket-boosted. Real-world maths is computer based—calculations not done by humans but by computers—but our school curricula are not. Very different.
“Today’s maths education has become an unhealthy fixation for assessment, an addictive fix for policymakers to push, and therefore hard to fundamentally fix. I intended all these meanings in entitling this book The Math(s) Fix with a crucial extra one added: spelling out the solution, the fix in detail.”
— The Math(s) Fix preface
The Math(s) Fix uniquely maps out the vision, the solution and ways to make the change to move to this new reality—a new reality that the rapidly enveloping AI age demands of education or us humans will lose out. We don’t want omnipresent computers to become omnipotent; instead we want to be in charge, computationally literate throughout society, like society has so successfully become literate (in reading and writing).
I did not want to write a dry book for maths aficionados. I set out to write an engaging and accessible book, a book for everyone to understand what’s needed, why, how—and as I put it “What the hell’s the point of learning this?”. Peppered with the serious hard stuff are anecdotes, my educational failures and how my daughter’s fared. Then the objections—arguing against my positions with what I’m confronted with. I think real maths and computation go across much of what we do in life these days so I have gone broadly through topics that are or should be related too. How management, law and medicine relate. What I’ve learnt about the politics of education in different countries. Why the educational ecosystem has become so stuck.
Fixing maths is urgent. I want to seed this change not just by complaining about what’s gone wrong but offering up a solution. Urgent doesn’t mean easy or fast. It’s neither. But with everyone’s collective efforts we can get this done… just like we achieved close-to-universal education and literacy in decades gone by.
The Math(s) Fix can be a catalyst for this critical change. The more who see what real-world maths is all about, how it can help them and what we need to do to get there, the better for all of us in so many ways: decisions, achievement, equity. The book can enlighten everyone to what’s wrong so we can make it right.
Hope you can come along on this journey, and if so, let me know how you get along. Even more so, please encourage others to take a look, and a read.
Alongside the book, we are launching our campaign today: “The Maths Fix Campaign for Core Computational Curriculum Change” or MFC5 for short. Please add your name, add your voice and support this if you agree.
Oh, and today really is my big day. Life II starts in another way as well: it’s my 50th birthday (and I’m definitely feeling more than )!
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The Math(s) Fix is now available.