Math Does Not Equal Calculating: Using Computer-Based Math Education

Conrad Wolfram does not think that math is being taught well today. Anywhere. Well, practically anywhere. The problem, as he describes in his TED talk, and elsewhere, is that of the four steps that involve solving real world problems with math, we are focussed too much on step three.
  1. Describing the problem and figuring out the quantifiable elements
  2. Translating the quantifiable parts into a problem that can be solved using math
  3. Calculating the mathematical solution
  4. Applying the solution to the original problem and verifying that it actually works.
Mr. Wolfram's arguments make sense when you consider that the most successful people the world had recent memory of were not the people who excelled at only step 3, but who were genius at the other steps and found people or machines to do step 3.
There is still a satisfaction for many to be able to do manual calculations. But it is silly not to incorporate computers and the like earlier in the curriculum.
Another point he makes is that calculus should be introduced much earlier. I couldn't agree more about this. I didn't enjoy math until I got to trigonometry because it was the first instance that showed the awesome leverage math could provide. I am thinking of the way you can measure the height of a flagpole using only the length of its shadow on the ground and the angle between the shadow and the top of the pole.
Anyway, it tuned out to be a hot topic with a lot of debate.