Teach statistics before calculus!

Stemming from the p-value discussion yesterday and today, I thought it’d be a good time to share my favorite TED talk, given by Art Benjamin.

“The world has changed from analog to digital, and it’s time for our mathematics curriculum to change from analog to digital.”


  1. bamuller says:

    I love how everyone claps as soon as he says the pinacle of the math pyramid should be stats instead of calculus. I wonder how many people in that room (1) remember anything from calculus, (2) know anything about statistics, or (3) just clap whenever they hear something that sounds like it might be profound.

    I say that as someone who both agrees with Art and who’s been to a TED conference and profoundly enjoyed the experience.

    1. hilaryparker says:

      lol. Well, I’d prefer people clapping randomly when they hear “statistics” rather than the usual hiss/booing 😉

  2. Xavi says:

    Hi Hilary,
    I’m sorry for my awful english.
    I say to the video content: yes but… not.
    Mr Arthur Benjamin talk about undertanding the concept of two standard deviations. To undertand the mening of two (1.96), to unertand well, It’s essential notion about calculus and algebra.
    I say, calculus yes but more oriented to probability and statistics. 🙂
    best regards from Barcelona,

  3. Adam R says:

    Its a really good point. My fear would be, just as with high school calculus classes, the teaching style (and enthusiasm for the subject) would be poor, and thus the students would just zone out as they do now – much like I did in my university level intro to statistics classes. It wasn’t until I got further along into my academic career when I realized the ‘interesting’ nuances and applications of statistics that it became truly interesting. So while I agree with main message, I’d think we’d have to think really intelligently about how to deliver it in a way that would engage 16, 117, 18 year olds.

  4. Nice find of the video, thank you. As a biologist by training, I agree that we should approach statistics in a more applied way early on. The math behind it is something for the professionals to dish out.

    As with any other subject, you would have to think long and hard about how to present it. I think it’s in human nature that the majority of 16 y/o will shun the (any) subject. Unless it’s sex, drugs or rock n’ roll.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s