What topics should be covered in school mathematics?

On May 25, Jo Boaler and I had a public conversation at Stanford about K-12 mathematics. (An edited video recording will be made available on the youcubed and SUMOP websites as soon as it is ready.) Our conversation was live-tweeted by @AliceKeeler, and that led to a lively twitter debate that lasted several days, with much of the focus on what topics should be taught.

Having been a professional mathematician for close on fifty years (first in pure mathematics, then in the world of business and government service), my take, which I articulated in my conversation with Jo and you can find in the Blue Notepad videos on this site, is somewhat unusual. I actually believe it is (in many ways, but not all) not important what is taught, but rather how it is taught.

My recent post in my monthly Devlin’s Angle for the Mathematical Association of America explains why I have that view. In a follow-up post next month, I will connect the argument I present this month with the discussion Jo and I had and the ensuing twitter debate.