Is it time to kill calculus?

In his Salon article, Dan Rockmore ponders whether standard math curricula that shepherd students towards calculus are perhaps outdated.

From the article:

Many parents relish reliving moments from our childhoods through our children, and doing homework with them is its own kind of madeleine. For Steve Levitt of "Freakonomics" fame — who is, in his own words, "someone who uses a lot of math in my everyday life" — a trip down memory lane vis-a-vis math homework became a moment of frustrated incredulity rather than gauzy reverie. "Perhaps the single most important development over the last 50 years has been the rise of data and computers, and yet the curriculum my children were learning seemed to have been air-dropped directly from my own childhood," he told me. "I couldn't see anything different about what they were learning than what I learned, even though the world had transformed completely. And that didn't make sense."

Levitt has made a career of questioning the received dogma. In this case, what he saw was that "A mathematical way of thinking, numeracy, data literacy, is far more important today than it has been; the ability to visualize data, the ability to make sense out of a pile of numbers, has never been more important, but you wouldn't know that from looking at the math curriculum." Data combined with the use of mathematical ideas had transformed the way he and others look at the world. Should data also change the way we teach mathematics?

Check out Dan Rockmore's entire article over at Salon.