Beyond Eighth Grade: Functional Mathematics for Life and Work

S. L. Forman, L. Arthur Steen

For most of this century, schools have been organized to prepare some students for college and others for work. But the world of work is changing, much of it requiring increased use of data and computers, measurements, and graphs. In the twenty-first century, most jobs and all careers will require some form of postsecondary education. Thus, all students, regardless of career goals, will benefit from a curriculum that prepares them for both work and higher education. Instead of "either/or," schools must now focus on "both/and." In Beyond Eighth Grade: Functional Mathematics for Life and Work, the authors propose a three-year high school program based on functional mathematics that prepares students for life and work. Typically, classroom applications are designed to serve mathematics-to offer context, to illustrate use, to motivate new concepts, or to integrate topics. In functional mathematics, the priorities are reversed. Instead of applications being introduced to help students learn a predefined body of knowledge, the mathematical topics are selected to prepare students to cope with common problems they will face in life and work. Examples of such real-life problems appear throughout this paper to illustrate in a concrete way the nature of functional mathematics.

MDS-1241 / May 1999

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