(NCTM) standards for mathematics education and the National Research Council's standards for science education. As described in Appendix B, such organizations focus on the mathematical and scientific education of all students, rather than a special few with previously demonstrated aptitude for mathematics or science. The organizations that produced these standards for mathematics and science education make the case that the intellectual content articulated in the standards is rich, deep, and most importantly not "dumbed down." These organizations believe that learning about science and mathematics is valuable not just for future scientists and mathematicians, but also for a very wide range of the citizenry.

The essentials of FITness are not for the most part dependent on knowledge of sophisticated mathematics. Indeed, the capabilities and concepts, though not the skills, are intellectually accessible even without computers per se. For example, the concept of an algorithm can be expressed and conveyed in an entirely qualitative and non-mathematical manner even to a 4th grader by discussing the rules of a game or following a recipe in the kitchen. Thus, the committee believes that the intellectual content of FITness is no less accessible to citizens than the mathematics and science contained within the NCTM and NRC standards.

A second issue is the following: by design, FITness is a body of knowledge and understanding that enables individuals to use information technology effectively in a variety of different contexts. But does being FIT mean that one will never need to rely on an information technology expert? Put differently, does an individual's consultation of an information technology expert imply a lack of FITness for that individual?

There is certainly some level of FITness at which an individual will not need to rely on an expert to fix an information technology problem or to exploit a new opportunity offered by information technology. But even someone who is FIT enough to not have to rely on an expert may find it advantageous to do so anyway. For example, a highly FIT individual may simply decide that it is not worth his or her time to fix a problem, even if he or she could do so. Furthermore, even if an individual with more basic levels of FITness may still need to consult with an information technology expert to solve a technology problem or to describe a technology solution, that basic understanding and knowledge will help him or her to interact constructively with the expert (e.g., to recognize that a problem is indeed solvable; to explain the problem or solution requirements more precisely; or to understand, implement, or dispute an approach that the expert proposes).

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement