Fewer Than 1/4 of Americans Use “Advanced” Math at Work…

But how many use “advanced” writing?? No one ever poses this question – is it because a larger portion of Americans think they are “good” writers? (As opposed to anyone who has ever said, “I was never good at math.”)

This post from the Atlantic takes research from Northeastern University professor, Michael Handel, and puts together his charts into graphs. (Here’s How Little Math Americans Actually Use at Work – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic.)

This is my favorite-

Here's How Little Math Americans Actually Use at Work - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic

Does it surprise you that SKILL and LABOR jobs use the highest percentage of “advanced” math? These careers like machinists, electricians, and others that require extensive trade school training are rising in demand as baby boomers retire. (I wrote more about the new role of tech school here – vocational training is coming back and we need to be steering some traditional “college” students in that direction)

Once I went to Mr. Handel’s Northeastern page and downloaded the research Atlantic used for their graphs, I uncovered another layer of the picture that may (or may not) surprise you.

The drop-off from basic to advanced writing between skilled white-collar and blue-collar to unskilled is even more pronounced than with math.

Here are the numbers together.Math AND Writing Comparison

It’s probably not fair to make a direct comparison between the yellow and blue bands in each section of the table, but even in the “more advanced” red band on the math section, those percentages aren’t drastically lower than those of “five pages” yellow band in writing, and for   blue collar, the percentage of math users is HIGHER.

So, tell me, why is our culture not in an uproar over writing formally as they are over “real,” relevant uses of Algebra? Where are all the programs to get kids using math in their liberal arts courses like we have to get kids writing in math and science?


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