Calculus or Statistics? This is the Great Decision for Tomorrow’s Third Graders.

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The CTO of SnapLogic has something to say:

Thousands of American high-school students on Tuesday will take the Advanced Placement calculus exam. Many are probably dreading it, perhaps seeing the test as an attempt to show off skills they will never use. What if they’re right?

I started thinking about this recently when my 14-year-old daughter was doing her pre-calculus homework. I couldn’t help wondering: Is this the best direction for children her age? Students need skills to thrive in the 21st-century workplace, and I’m not convinced calculus is high on that list. Sure, calculus is essential for some careers, particularly in physics and engineering. But few eighth-graders are set on those fields.

Nobody takes calculus in ninth grade unless they’re a super-genius. So was this entire op-ed just an excuse to brag on his daughter? Why else would he make completely unnecessary references to her age three separate times?

Anyway, his larger point is that he’d rather see high-school students take computer programming or statistics. I suppose I agree, though I’ll confess to second thoughts lately on statistics, which I think benefits from a certain level of numerical maturity that might be missing in high school. But I’m not sure about that.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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