Friday, June 29, 2012

Seepy Benton Would Not Agree

The Math Scam


Seepy Benton said...

Just a few pithy comments:

1. The math curriculum used to be a mile wide and an inch deep. Not any more. Now it’s only half an inch deep.

2. If course content was based solely on the question of how likely it is that we are going to have to use something in the future, then we could throw out most of what is taught in K-12. Most people will rarely have to use the quadratic formula in the real world, and by the same token, how many people will need to know later on in life how to diagram a sentence or that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066? If education was only about what we will use later on in life, then we could limit the curriculum to teaching people just how to operate a remote control.

3. I will be the first to admit that a lot of very bad decisions have and continue to be made in regard to the teaching of mathematics, and these bad decisions are made by both the people with the most math education and those with the least. In particular, there are an appalling number of bad textbooks out there!

4. The content of the mathematics curriculum has been changed in many places to reflect real world applications of mathematics. However, in the process, I’ve also seen a lot of essential theory and computational techniques discarded.

5. Algebra is not that hard. Trigonometry, though, is a little harder, but also a lot more fun. And calculus, while certainly even more difficult, can result, when properly understood, in a massive release of endorphins and other joy-juice brain chemicals that can immediately propel one into Nirvana! Or, at least, that’s what happens when I work a few problems.

6. I can’t say that I’ve gotten all that smarter over the years, but the people around me have certainly gotten a lot dumber. Consequently, I’m convinced that we are already in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypse. Somehow, though, I, Bill Crider, and the few people reading this post seem to be immune to the zombie virus.

Bud said...

Wouldn't call myself a mathematician, but agree about 5. and the bad textbooks. As to 6., I expect there have always been plenty of dummies around, in or out of mathematics, they're just more noticeable now.