Teaching Excel in High School

By | September 5, 2017

My kids are in middle and high school. They are learning math at different levels. The thing that annoys me is how little they use Excel to do their work. Why do we teach kids how to calculate by hand? Think of the alternative:

  1. Start teaching excel early like kindergarden
  2. Accelerate through simple subjects like addition and subtraction
  3. Start to give harder problems to solve that require multiple cells with advanced math like geometry
  4. Make tests where you need to solve problems in Excel and “show your work” by breaking the problem down into discrete cells
  5. Super advanced levels – use macros to teach programming

Excel, for better or worse, drives a huge amount of work in this world. Startups model their entire business in excel. People project manage in Excel. Excel is one of the killer productivity apps of the last 50 years. Why is it possible to graduate high school and not be fluent in it?

I think teaching excel would increase mathematics retention and advancement. It would spur more programming careers. It would spur more innovation in business modeling.

I am not saying that it would solve the Korean nuclear threat…but maybe it would!

Who is in charge of this sort of thing? How can our entire mathematics curriculum system in public schools be changed?  is that even possible?

Can anything change? My kids learn math the same way I did 30 years ago.

Even if we know the answers, are we just doomed to repeat the past?

One thought on “Teaching Excel in High School

  1. Daniel Lipka

    There is certainly value in understanding the fundamentals of math, but there is no reason why teachers can’t utilize excel as a critical tool for students to calculate and analyze information. Of course that is based on the idea that learning math is more important than learning excel, which might not even be correct at this point. Perhaps Excel should be the focus and we teach the math in order for kids to better use a practical and powerful application. The problem with this issue is that we would need to know what the actual purpose of school is. Are we providing a basis for a generally-educated population? Are we preparing kids to join the workforce (or to develop skills that employers want)? It is all a test to see who is dedicated and who gets to go to college? Or is it just practical babysitting? Most schools don’t do any of these things well. We still teach kids script and ancient history, but that has nothing to do with job skills. We teach kids math, but not coding or technology. Like the electoral college and term limits, everyone knows that they system is broken, but those who are in charge are most at risk if there is change.

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