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Learning Mathematics and Access to Higher Education*
The massification of higher education is a global phenomenon and responds
to profound social changes that have increased the work associated with higher
learning. Today no modern country should have elitist university systems regardless
of how superb their studies may be. Higher learning should serve as a mechanism
to promote the disadvantaged sectors and balance socio-economical inequalities.
In fact, higher education should be a permanent social service for all. No
one should feel “exiled” from the world of higher learning.
Many years ago secondary schools adequately prepared their graduates for university life. Today it is clear the situation has changed. The difference between secondary and university teaching is even greater. There is endless proof that the mathematical training of secondary school graduates has become an important obstacle in the cycle from secondary to university education. Many university professors continue with the “pure” versus “applied” mathematics discussion, which seems to be an endless and irrelevant debate. Others have undertaken serious research in the field of teaching mathematics, but rarely is this research made available to teachers in a motivating or understandable manner.
New technologies have made significant contributions to the question of “what to teach”, but not “how to teach”. This has become a crucial issue for all levels of mathematics education. Primary and secondary level teachers have difficult questions to answer: Processes? Content? Algorithms? Although it appears as though universities ask for processes, they require entrance exams in which complicated algorithms – those that a computer could solve in seconds – determine acceptance.
At the end of secondary school and the beginning of university -- at least in the area of mathematics—it seems as though we are trying to put the roof on a house that has no foundation or walls. We must articulate systematic actions and promote teacher training in the face of these new contexts
We are not asking for “recipes”. We are simply asking teachers of all levels who are committed to improving quality with equity to reflect on these issues and give them the attention they deserve.?
Universidad Nacional de Luján
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed are not necessarily of the OAS nor of its member states. The opinions expressed are the responsibility of the authors.
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