But most of all, I really started thinking about the NEED for students to be exposed to lessons in statistics. The greatest need is for students to be made aware that they need to think critically when presented with statistics found in the real world. I get the feeling that a majority of adults don't understand the different ways statistics can be manipulated to show different angles of the same story. Just yesterday, I saw this video on CNN of an interview between CNN's Don Lemon and Sheriff David Clarke.
I'm not here to pick sides on this issue. I don't follow politics enough to shed light on the data that Lemon is referring to. I don't know if the President was lying about it, nor am I implying that he was. I am simply using this four line discussion as evidence that there is a lot of gray area in the realm of statistics.
What I do know is that there ways that statistics can manipulate the truth about what is really happening. Students need to understand how things like sample size and random sampling can have an effect on data. They need to analyze different data sets that hold relevance in their world, whether it be things such as shoe size, height, or average sleep time. Students need to understand why the median is resistant to outliers. They need to understand how we determine if a data point can be considered an outlier. They need to see how graphs can be misleading.
All of these skills (and others) are needed in order for our students to be wise consumers of statistics. I am afraid that many people hear statistics on the news or read statistics found in newspapers, but never really consider the process of how the statistic was created or how the statistic was represented and what message it is intended to support.