Einstein once said, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This may seem like a pretty straightforward statement, but there’s real substance to it beyond the obvious humor. It takes sophisticated expertise and true mastery of a subject to adhere to Einstein’s sage advice and present content in a clear, concise manner without “dumbing it down.” Unfortunately, oversimplification is one of many mistakes made by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Math Map.
The students don’t generate the data. They don’t do calculations with the data. They merely read about a poor country, and publish data on it. Sure, these examples might be interesting to students, but as mathematical exercises they are frequently ill-defined, lack content alignment, and possess a general lack of precision that flat-out contradicts P21’s claim that these problems will encourage students to “attend to precision.” Does P21 or its supporters really believe for a minute that simple arithmetic problems and routine data collection assignments will prepare students for professional careers as engineers, doctors, software developers, and the like?