Teddy--I'm an SJ and school wasn't that great from my perspective. Math was particularly miserable. There was no hands on, it was rote work, and relevancy was not established.
Don't get me wrong, math is needed and we all must learn it, but the way we teach it--no wonder the boys are checking out.
I think we ought to tie math and other subjects to actual real life examples of where these skills are used. If you are teaching fractions, use the stock market, or if you are teaching trig, use a DSO--there are a bazillion applications--math is in everything and nothing exists without math.
I didn't mean to imply that all SJ's love school, and my guess is most of them don't. But they're much more equipped to survive it and find enjoyment in it than the other temperaments...or at least I get that impression from a number of people I talk to.
About the whole relevance issue, you're right, but at the same time, the issue is much deeper than that.
Concerning math education, this is a fantastic essay, one of the best I've ever read, though it's pretty long:
Anyway, you're right that there's not enough relevance, but that's because of the way college is. At least in my state, all math classes beyond Algebra 1 have curriculum's set up for basically the sole purpose of "getting students ready" for college level math, which is basically all abstract and theory based.
Increased relevance would certainly help the situation a lot, but it's not like it's a magic solution that makes everyone love math. Students have all kinds of interests, and they often don't care about how something is useful in life unless it's immediately relatable to their own lives. This is the problem with teaching everything to everyone...you can't expect everyone to take an interest in the same things.
Don't get me wrong, like I said, it helps a lot to have a subject more interesting and applicable. When I taught Discrete Math a few years ago, students would tell me all of the time it was the best math they had ever taken, that it was interesting, and that they could always see it's purpose. I wasn't shackled with a standardized test, I didn't have to worry as much about "getting students ready for the next math", and I had enough time to do things that kids enjoyed more and saw the purpose in. Of course, like I said, this didn't make the whole thing easy and wonderful, because like I said, there's no one-size-fits-all. But it certainly was much better.
And that's part of the problem with math in itself...it builds on itself so much, and teachers switch every year. In elementary schools kids are trained not to think, not to be creative, just to do rote memory drill work. Even then, a number of them don't even have the basics. By the time they get to high school, it's hard enough just to get them to understand the simple work itself, much less how it's applied....that takes actual thinking and mental work, and so many kids these days are lacking those abilities because they never do them until they get to high school, if then.
Yeah, this whole boy thing is a hot button of mine. Sorry to rant--I just feel the system is backwards. Instead of making the child fit into an unnatural education system, what is wrong with making the education system work for the child? Too many boys are given drugs because we are too lazy/preoccupied/whatever to meet their needs.
Basically, the problem is that no one cares about education. Most people probably put school behind them once they graduate and only care about it or revisit it when they have kids of their own. Even then, most people only care about their own kids, not all of the other kids in school or education in general. And politicians don't care about education either.
There are all kinds of policies put in place to make politicians and education systems look good in the public eye, and these policies do nothing to help students actually learn.
To really have an education system focused on that, it would take a lot more money, a lot better training of teachers, and a set up that starts in elementary school and goes through the university system. So call me a cynic, but I never see that happening.
Didn't mean to derail the thread, but like niss said, this is a subject I feel kind of strongly about as well.