Math’s important. It’s elegant. It’s a magical way to deal with abstract concepts on your way to finding out the provable truth. There’s not enough math in the world.
Math isn’t the same as arithmetic. Basic arithmetic is necessary, but everything beyond that is simply easily-graded compliance disguised as busy-work.
A high school principal told me that there’s a high correlation between students who fail to complete algebra and those that drop out of school before graduation. It’s not surprising if you think about it—factoring polynomials is a totally useless activity that only demonstrates that you’re good at school.
What would happen if we introduced variables and intuitive algebra and then immediately switched gears to probabilities (gambling and decision making) and statistics (sports, predictions and understanding the world as it is and it might be.)
What would a year of hands-on truth-finding do for a class of freshmen? What mathematical and vocational doors would it open?
Every day we spend teaching hand factoring of binomials to non-math majors is another day we raise mathematically illiterate kids. What are we waiting for?