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(The New York Times)   The problem with American schools is that they teach too much math   (nytimes.com) divider line 573
    More: Stupid, Americans, Appalachian State University, Advanced Placement, university system, City University London, trigonometry, School of Medicine, high schools  
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18726 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:44 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-30 04:59:58 PM  

Thoguh: Kimothy: Most people aren't using algebra in their everyday lives.

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!


the real answer is, shop somewhere else, where you get a discount the more you buy
 
2012-07-30 05:00:02 PM  
Problem solving skills are really over rated. I can almost hear the author as a child throwing a melt-down tantrum and crying profusely because they couldn't figure it out.
 
2012-07-30 05:00:59 PM  

namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.


Odd...a guy I did theatre with in college is making a pretty good living acting for stage and screen, and others have gone on to do radio, public speaking and other related work. Likewise, several others have had great monetary success with art and music.
 
2012-07-30 05:01:39 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


Maybe, but everyone should be forced to take Probability and Stats in college.

/hell, in HS
 
2012-07-30 05:02:16 PM  

Mega Steve: If I didn't know algebra, I wouldn't know how to buy enough hot dogs and buns so they would equal up.


I hate to sound like a knucklehead, but... wow. That is a perfect example to use. The next time my son complains about how he doesn't need to know math when he grows up, I'll have to use that one.

/(x*8)+(y*10)=z
 
2012-07-30 05:02:35 PM  
Bring back shop
 
2012-07-30 05:02:57 PM  
pbpl.physics.ucla.edu
 
2012-07-30 05:03:23 PM  

Grand_Moff_Joseph: A huge part of the problem is that math isn't being taught correctly, even by the (many) good teachers out there. I spent far too much time in math classes working on the "theory", the "whys" of math, and little time on the practical application thereof.

For example: No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares "why" 2+2=4, or "why" limits and log functions work the way that they do. Why are spending half of a test writing proofs for these concepts? We should be using those tests to apply the ideas to problems, and find reality-based ways to solve them.

Also, while I understand the pervasiveness of calculators and computers today (my TI83 got me through Trig and Calc), calculators need to stay out of the classroom until at least high school. I'm not a math whiz, but I can make change in my head. When the power went out in the WalMart I worked at in College, half of the cashiers had to use their phones to calculate change amounts because they couldn't do it manually.


I think there might be some value to introducing them earlier, mostly because the students will be introduced to calculators and computers at an early age regardless of how the school approaches it. There's no harm in showing students how use tools properly.
 
2012-07-30 05:03:45 PM  
The fact that this is even a debate is proof that we're completely farked as a country. How the hell can the US compete with non-derpy countries if we can't understand the most basic of abstract mathematics?

Seriously, people. We must teach it because it's hard....even though it really isn't.
 
2012-07-30 05:03:50 PM  
EngineerBoy
These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
If you can't explain it at all, you probably teach high school.
 
2012-07-30 05:04:31 PM  
I think that we have been trying to find "easier" ways to teach math for over 40 years

Evidence is that for the most part, the easier ways are failures.

The key to being good at math is the same as being good at reading. You have to do it and do it and do it and do it. In other words, those old fashioned work books that were full of excercise problems are the way to go. Teach the concept, show some sample problems, have the students do 20 problems over night. Check their work, if they don't have the idea, find common threads in the lack of understanding, assign 50 more problems designed to address the problems. Check them the next day, if they have it, go to the next concept.

The other problem is that many teachers, especially at the elementary level, don't really understand math well enough to understand whether their students get it or not, much less why they don't get it.
 
2012-07-30 05:04:36 PM  

rockforever: Bring back shop


That. The combination of mechanics + craftsmanship + applied math + problem solving = good.
 
2012-07-30 05:05:09 PM  
img189.imageshack.us
 
2012-07-30 05:05:13 PM  
fark it.
the Chinese have won.
 
2012-07-30 05:05:51 PM  

slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.


ALL classes which will never be needed are a waste. DUH
composition? complete waste.
philosophy? complete waste.
bioethics? complete waste.

computer science? totally worth it!
physics, chemistry? extra worth it.
german? worthless.

bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhahahahaha
why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.
 
2012-07-30 05:05:52 PM  
Math is intensely important to computer programming. You're all so completely dependent on it, and you barely seem to realize it.
 
2012-07-30 05:06:00 PM  
II'd have to say:
Dear author of "article," yes it is you stupid son of a biatch. Maybe if you worked one day in your life in a real job you'd know this.
 
2012-07-30 05:06:38 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


That's funny... I was just having a discussion maybe 2 days ago about the reasoning behind why stats isn't a required part of a high school education. Not necessarily a whole semester of stats, but all the basics. I even discussed a single semester of algebra and stats combined. Advanced material from either one of them is all but useless to most students, but the basics learned from both carry on to a number of things in the job market that are not science related.
 
2012-07-30 05:07:08 PM  

namatad: why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.


Review your own posts, then attempt to answer your own question.
 
2012-07-30 05:07:45 PM  

buckler: namatad: why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.

Review your own posts, then attempt to answer your own question.


...or do I have a hook in my mouth at this point?
 
2012-07-30 05:08:16 PM  
The problem is with convincing kids that mad mathz skillz are important- you've got to remember, these are little idiots with - as a matter of course - no properly developed concept of what the future holds for them. In more traditional societies and in the developing world, it's easy: The motivation is "because your parents want you to" or "because learning as much as you can will get you out of this place". In the US and elsewhere in the West, it's harder: You have to convince them that they will need these skills in the future.
 
2012-07-30 05:08:25 PM  

buckler: namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.

Odd...a guy I did theatre with in college is making a pretty good living acting for stage and screen, and others have gone on to do radio, public speaking and other related work. Likewise, several others have had great monetary success with art and music.


yup, and I went to school with the Wachowskis and michelle robinson. YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
school had nothing to do with anything.
they would have been much better off if they could have skipped everything!!!

/I was being sarcastic. either all classes should be required or no classes should be required.
 
2012-07-30 05:08:58 PM  

Babwa Wawa: Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound, how much is three pounds?

Oh shiat! You just used algebra!

This is an algebraic word problem:

Meat is $2.99/lb. Last week it was 15% less, and you could afford 3 pounds. How much money did you have last week.

And that's elementary algebra - I don't think anyone here is arguing that you don't need that level of education. Certainly the author didn't argue that. The question is whether people need to actually master abstract algebra in order to graduate HS.


Ah, so this is an argument about degrees of algebra.

man, I hate useless word problems like this one. There has *got* to be a better way to get this same point across in a useful manner. I mean, are there any situations when I wouldn't know I had $7.62 last week, but I would know the relative difference in price and the amount I bought? That is sooo... backwards.

I guess, you could make it like a detective story:
"A detective is investigating a robbery and the suspect was seen leaving the supermarket and throwing away the receipt, which would have his finger prints. There are 4 receipts, but they only indicate the price spent/item. The clerk doesn't remember the price of the meat, but does remember that the suspect bought 3 pounds of beef, currently $3.99, which cost 15% less the day on the crime. Which receipt has the suspect's fingerprints?"

That's probably too long and complicated, but at least more interesting.
 
2012-07-30 05:10:17 PM  

Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.


Not as long as Raptor Regan has a say in matters

i.imgur.com

The communists will never succeed!
 
2012-07-30 05:10:24 PM  

buckler: buckler: namatad: why do tards complain about things that they dont like, but think that others should take topics that they think are important.

Review your own posts, then attempt to answer your own question.

...or do I have a hook in my mouth at this point?


LOL
no .... my complaint is that these people want to change the things that they hate, but think their stuff is perfect.
Literature classes exist to employ literature students. why are the rest of us punished to employ them??
 
2012-07-30 05:10:31 PM  

EngineerBoy: The problem, in my opinion, is not with Algrebra, but with math education in this country, starting from grade school on. In college I had many classes in common with Education majors, and with virtual unanimity they complained about how hard it was to pass basic college math courses, and that what they taught wasn't necessary in life. Several of then went on to become math teachers, because that's what was hiring.

These people had no facility for or appreciation of mathematics, and simply acted as parrots for textbook course plans designed to have the fewest kids fail the standardized tests. Any time a kid had a conceptual problem, they simply could not help because they did not understand the theory, either. And any time a kid showed a facility for mathematics and a desire to learn more, they had nothing to give, thus potentially stifling a future mathematician.

In my opinion the solution is to make teaching a respectably paid vocation, such that it will attract people who could easily get work in the business sector, but might choose to become teachers if it didn't mean settling for a life of extraordinarily limited earning potential.


My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.
 
2012-07-30 05:11:21 PM  

Babwa Wawa: slayer199: As much as I hated algebra (and still do), I wouldn't want to abandon teaching it. Geometry is useful, statistics can be useful. However, forcing pre-calc and college algebra on college students that will never need either is a waste.

I disagree - a university degree should (but usually doesn't) indicate a person with a well-rounded education.

Allowing people to focus exclusively on their degree is job training, not university education. You end up wit scientists who can't write, and historians who can't analyze data.


no you dont. there are no scientists that cant write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that like learning will do so no matter what. It is not a university's job to "round me" it is their job to provide specialized high tech training with resources I cant find elsewhere. I can buy lit books and biographies on my own thanks.
 
2012-07-30 05:11:24 PM  
Don't worry scrote. Lots of retards are livin' really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.

buttonpushingmonkey.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-07-30 05:11:30 PM  

namatad: buckler: namatad: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
Bwahahahahahah we should BAN art and theater from all schools. Worthless skillz are worthless.

Odd...a guy I did theatre with in college is making a pretty good living acting for stage and screen, and others have gone on to do radio, public speaking and other related work. Likewise, several others have had great monetary success with art and music.

yup, and I went to school with the Wachowskis and michelle robinson. YAWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
school had nothing to do with anything.
they would have been much better off if they could have skipped everything!!!

/I was being sarcastic. either all classes should be required or no classes should be required.


Thanks. I'm working on about three things plus Farking at the moment. My sarcasm meter alarm didn't go off to alert me. Back to the shop for it, I guess.
 
2012-07-30 05:13:06 PM  

Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.


Duuuuude! Your teacher ever share the bong?
 
2012-07-30 05:14:05 PM  
I hated math, became an English major, got out into the real world, and landed my first job in banking. That evolved into analytics, performance tracking, and statistical analysis & modeling. I use algebra every day.
I'm damn glad I received the broad, liberal education that included algebra, stats, logic and computer science.

I'm one of the few in my part of the corporation who is a solid writer. Probably the only one who both understands the complex issues discussed and is capable of communicating effectively. Job security rocks...

/the math is there to teach you how to effectively approach abstract and uncomfortable challenges...pretty useful, in general...
 
2012-07-30 05:14:39 PM  

wingedkat: downstairs: As a completely random example, but something that irks me personally... so many people cannot uderstand crime statistics. Not even to the point of understanding that per capita must be applied to any number, or its generally meaningless. Of course thats basic division, not even algebra.

Yeah, they do teach algebra abysmally in most places. After all, the understanding of when to apply basic division is something generally gained by learning algebra (or should be, at least).

I think two big changes need to be made:

1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.
2. Algebra, geometry, etc needs to be taught along with all the basics way back in grade school. Algebra especially is basically just math grammar, nothing that should be pulled out and made a big deal of.


To be in compliance with NCLB and the CRCT, it already is being taught in the lower grades. It's being taught like crap, but it's being taught. Most kids memorize stuff just long enough to pass and then have to re-learn it the next time around, while the kids that get it are bored beyond belief. My fifth grader and second grader were actually working the same friggin problems at one point, because the fifth grade teacher really liked the worksheet the second grade teacher created.
 
2012-07-30 05:15:04 PM  

Kimothy: They're, not their. Damn.


Too late. Your entire argument, no matter how valid, has been rendered useless.
 
2012-07-30 05:15:28 PM  
School is obviously holding kids back. We should skip the whole thing.
 
2012-07-30 05:15:38 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Indeed:

"Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

--George Carlin
 
2012-07-30 05:16:07 PM  

pciszek: Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.

Can you really teach statistics without an understanding of algebra?


Maybe per capita type stuff, but confidence intervals and margin of error would be difficult without algebra.
 
2012-07-30 05:16:19 PM  
Brian Erst writes: "Just make the coming generation of fembots user-programmable in a way that requires good math and logic skills. You will very quickly have a generation of mathematical and programming geniuses."

via-Instapundit
 
2012-07-30 05:16:31 PM  
Surely you can't be serious, math is the area we are suck the most at.
 
2012-07-30 05:17:36 PM  
i950.photobucket.com
 
2012-07-30 05:17:55 PM  

LordOfThePings: Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.

Duuuuude! Your teacher ever share the bong?


And just to be clear, I mean that she thought that pi was irrational because every time we measure a circle, our measurements are slightly off. She thought there was a finite decimal expansion of pi, we just hadn't discovered it yet.

I stopped paying attention in class after that.
 
2012-07-30 05:18:34 PM  

Babwa Wawa: I went into that article thinking you could get rid of algebra if you replaced it with something more relevant like statistics.

The nation would be much better off if everyone had a basic understanding of stats.


Especially certain people in certain global temp trend threads.

/15 years!
 
2012-07-30 05:18:35 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: No shiat. That's because you aren't supposed to learn the algorithms; you're supposed to learn how abstraction and reasoning lead to the algorithms. We don't need any more people in the workforce who are experts in applying the quadratic formula, but that simply isn't the point. Mathematical reasoning in workplaces takes the form of abstraction and identification of relationships between abstractions. These are the skills you are supposed to begin to develop in high school "algebra" and geometry. And if you can't, you should be a barrista or some kind of clerk. You have no business making decisions. Or you could be a political science professor, who's work depends heavily on numbers he doesn't understand. You could do that, too.


Well said. And the author is an idiot for thinking you can teach stats without any math background... unless one is a social scientist who likes playing with numbers without understanding how methodologies work. I know plenty of social scientists who love playing with quantitative models, but when you ask basic questions about their logic and causality, everything falls apart.
 
2012-07-30 05:18:36 PM  

wingedkat: 1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.


Mmm, no. Here's the thing: an alarmingly large proportion of the middle school kids I've encountered in the past while have often come in with huge gaps in their math abilities, often operating several years behind where they should be.

It should be noted that a BSc-Math degree doesn't qualify one to start an elementary certification program under typical state NCLB standards. You would need an extra year or so of general arts credits beyond your degree to qualify. Basically, you'd have to hybrid into the equivalent of a BA (Math). Math majors generally certify at middle or high school.

The converse is not true. One or two math credits are sufficient for an Arts or History major.

Worse, most teacher college professors appear to have been drawn from the huge pool of English/History majors. You're very lucky if you have a math or science background professor who can teach that aspect of education to the elementary school teacher candidates.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:04 PM  

Lord Dimwit: My high school honors (!) geometry teacher told me that pi is an irrational number because we can't measure it because we can't draw a perfect circle. If we could draw a perfect circle, the exact value of pi would be known.


That sounds a lot like the last time I tried to calculate the precise value of infinity using a scratch pad, a tape measure and the end off of a serial cable.. and three days later discovered that there were two tabs stuck together, apparently.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:23 PM  
I don't think we are hard enough on kids.

if you don't want to take the basics of math in HS, then please by all means ask me if I want fries with that after you get out.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:24 PM  

buckler: I am terrible at math. I tried and tried in school, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. My brain just isn't wired that way. However, I excel when it comes to language and interpretive arts, and I did very well in visual arts. Aside from the occasional grammar-Nazi snark here, I don't put down those who don't do well in English or related fields, because I know my own limits when it comes to math. I had a roommate who admitted he never learned to read, and I helped tutor him until he had at least the basic skills.

The important thing for me is that I was necessarily exposed to both fields. I found I did well in one, and not so much the other; I would expect to find that there are those who excel in math, but maybe not so much in language skills. I don't value them less that anyone else. Indeed, these people are vital in the STEM fields, which our country needs people in now more than ever. This guy's thesis is bunkum.


PERFECT!!
And this is what school should be all about. Finding the things which one is good at and then being educated in those things.
People with no interest in ... botany, wouldnt disrupt the class. those interested in band, would do band.

the only reason that you would need to take other classes is to get enough exposure to determine interest in the first place.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:35 PM  
Learning math is really learning problem solving, the numbers are almost irrelevant. When I taught prep for the GMATand GRE I found the students who couldn't do math were the students who could never solve any of the verbal problems they didn't immediately know. They seemed to lack the ability to break down a question and figure out how to solve it.
 
2012-07-30 05:19:38 PM  
If the price of sending someone to prison > price of sending someone to Princeton

Then YES we need more math to keep people out of prison.

http://www.business2community.com/government-politics/prison-vs-princ e ton-university-infographic-073142
 
2012-07-30 05:20:04 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:
1. Math majors shouldn't teach math.



I found some of your homework.

[filehurricane.com image 494x371]


hmm.... uh huh... yeah, turns out I don't see what you did there.

It would make more sense if you had not made it *my* homework.
 
2012-07-30 05:20:14 PM  

Kimothy: Their definitely not using trig or calculus, unless they pursued careers that use those things.


My brother cannot understand the different between growth at a slower rate and shrinking. This impacts his ability to understand all manner of social and economic issues. Even if you don't solve trig and calculus problems everyday, mastering those concepts allows you to better understand the world around you.
 
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