Here we have a book on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education written for a popular audience — with clarity, fervor, and a sense of humor. We get a review of some recent news in this area, though it’s more based on the author’s experience than a comprehensive search. The news is mixed with lots of opinions, somewhat subjective and sometimes ignoring many relevant issues.
One noteworthy claim made by the author is that poor standing of U.S. students compared to students in other countries is nothing new and goes back decades. The decline of the Protestant work ethic in the U.S., contrasted with the possibility of workers in other countries satisfying U.S. technology needs without leaving home, is not really addressed. Many of the comments about statistical analyses left this statistics teacher uncomfortable. Still, this is a book that parents, school administrators, and school board members might actually read.
The author favors grand mission statements and ambitious government programs. Of course we have had those for 50 years now. This reviewer’s dissertation advisor was a member of the local school board. It may be that not much will happen until those of us who care about these issues get down in the trenches with K–12 teachers and show a willingness to work as well as to opine.
Recommended if you would like to learn about some of the work that’s been done in recent years, or find out what the general public can read about these issues and whether you personally would recommend they read this book. It is certainly pro-STEM education but opinions may vary widely on what the problem or the solution actually are.
After a few years in industry, Robert W. Hayden (firstname.lastname@example.org) taught mathematics at colleges and universities for 32 years and statistics for 20 years. In 2005 he retired from full-time classroom work. He now teaches statistics online at statistics.com and does summer workshops for high school teachers of Advanced Placement Statistics. He contributed the chapter on evaluating introductory statistics textbooks to the MAA's Teaching Statistics.