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What  Students Need Today

As Thomas L. Friedman describes in depth in The World Is Flat (2007) the rapidly changing global society we now face calls for a dramatically different vision of the worker of the future. Regardless of whether a student enrolls in college or chooses to enter the workforce directly after high school, s/he will need a much strong educational background than previous generations did. The need for communication skills, the arts, and the social sciences is as great as ever, but now our young people face competition from well-educated workers around the world Рworkers especially strong in math and science skills. The workplace training programs and certification programs they might pursue for their future now demand more mathematics, science, and technology than ever before, and essentially all workers in jobs with a future need to be able to reason and think critically and creatively.

Even in life beyond the workplace, scientific issues dominate the nation’s political and economic discussions and overflow into every dimension of our lives, calling for scientific literacy in issues ranging from health care to energy use in our homes to taking care of our planet. Today we need new mathematical skills to bring meaning and order to the flood of data and statistical information that hits us every day. Our definition of an educated person is now a much richer vision than in previous times, when reading, writing, and some basic arithmetic would suffice for day-to-day survival. Today’s literacy also means quantitative literacy, scientific literacy, and high-level critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

quote from Cathy L. Seeley (NCTM)

What Can You Do?

So what can families do to support a student’s education?

Consider the following:

* Reading is a life-skill and effects all learning. Read to or with them everyday. Let them see you reading.

* Help children understand the value of education and the importance of math and science. Let them know that even though math may get difficult sometimes, it is critical for their future.

*Send positive messages about reading and math. Saying that you never were good at either math or reading, or that you don’t like it can have a lasting impact on a child. Even if you can;t show your love for reading or mathematics, you can communicate enthusiasm abs support for your daughter’s or son’s work and interest is these subjects.

* Look for printed language or math around you. With young children, notice the letters, shapes, and numbers in nature, buildings, advertising, and so on; with older children, notice and discuss the printed media, numerical data, statistical information, and scientific news in the media.

* Help children learn to persevere, a talent uniquely lacking in the U.S. student population compared with students from other countries. Sticking with a challenging math problem to arrive at a solution is one of the most rewarding experiences a student can have and also one of the most important habits of mind a student can develop.

* Be comfortable with not knowing everything your son or daughter is studying. Look for resources to help aid you, or ask your child to explain it to you. Come up with a family math problem to work on together that involves mathematics you have never seen before.

* Volunteer to help at school, but be flexible; help in the school or a child’s classroom. This can be done on a regular schedule or occasionally. Understand that the bigger help you can provide, whether you volunteer in school or not, is to be supportive of your daughter’s or son’s mathematical development within your own family.

* Be open to a changing picture of school, of writing(communication), reading and mathematics being taught, and of the ways in which they are taught, as society’s needs change and as er continue to learn more about teaching and learning.

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