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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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18708 clicks; posted to Main » on 30 Jul 2012 at 4:44 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-30 09:20:37 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.


Among the dumbest things ever posted on fark. Learning the "why" is the only value of math, it is all reasoning and logical proofs.
 
2012-07-30 09:20:53 PM
Author is a dip-shiat.
 
2012-07-30 09:22:19 PM

buckler: I don't want to beat the dead horse much more, so I'll just say this: I have a great admiration for those with a mastery of mathematics. It is a wonderful thing, and I understand it has a certain poetry all its own. Personally, I have tried and tried to gain at least a basic competency, but at some point, there comes a time when my brain just refuses to process it any further. I'm not unintelligent, but my intelligence just lies elsewhere. Maybe with more work, and a facilitator that can teach in a way I can understand it better, I might improve.

I know there are some here who compare that with basic illiteracy, and you might be right on that count; I don't know. When I spoke about that roommate of mine who admitted to me that he was illiterate, and who I helped, I was talking about a guy who was not at all stupid. He was a brilliant cook who created fantastic things, made even better by the fact that he created them intuitively, without the ability to read a recipe.

Intelligence comes in all forms, and despite how smart you may be, there is always, always someone who can do something you admire and aspire to do, and who does it better than you.

/out


Dude, you got a "Free-Love" card, golden.

*bow*

P.S. To bow one way is to be made supplicant by money, and to bow another way respectfully is respect, and to *bow* on stage is to say, "You're welcome for my performance, now kindly suck my dick after the show..."

P.P.S. To bow indubitably is to bow all ways...

P.P.P.S. But, remember, to bow is to gain the advantage of depth. To rise up, from a low stance, to strike hard and deep, to raise the level of the ground, to quake and disturb those that sat so firmly upon the ground before the bow...
 
2012-07-30 09:22:52 PM

Mimic_Octopus: 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 don't. there are no scientists that who cant can't write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that who 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.

[these are in addition to capitalization errors]

It's generally accepted that many people in science and tech fields are not especially great written communicators. Just ask my dad, who taught basic mechanical engineering at RPI for a couple years and said that some of the kids couldn't write a one-page paper. People don't say, "I are an engineer" for no reason. (On the reverse side of that coin, some liberal arts majors can't do simple math without the aid of a calculator).

At most universities, you can place out of certain requirements (like basic writing and basic math) with a minimum score on certain standardized or university-administered tests. If you can't, you take the classes. The universities, for selfish and obvious reasons, don't want to put out retards in the world who can't properly punctuate their sentences or calculate the tip on a bill.

/you want specialized training? go to a trade school. you want an education? go to college.
 
2012-07-30 09:23:27 PM
The day after midterms were handed back in a stat class, one of the nursing students demanded to have a word or two with the instructor.

"I don't understand how you expect me to learn this stuff. I'm going to be a nurse! What have statistics ever done for the nursing profession?"

The professor though for a second and replied, "Young lady, statistics save lives."

The student did no believe this. "How so?"

"Simple. They prevent idiots from becoming nurses."


/The joke is even sadder if you replace "stat" with "algebra"
 
2012-07-30 09:25:36 PM

Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.


Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.
 
2012-07-30 09:27:20 PM
Wow, what a dumbass. If you aren't capable of doing simple algebra, your "political opinion" and "social analysis" is worthless.
 
2012-07-30 09:28:31 PM

turbidum: Mimic_Octopus: 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 don't. there are no scientists that who cant can't write. writing is a huge component of being a scientist. historians should be analyzing history, not data anyway. people that who 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. [these are in addition to capitalization errors]

It's generally accepted that many people in science and tech fields are not especially great written communicators. Just ask my dad, who taught basic mechanical engineering at RPI for a couple years and said that some of the kids couldn't write a one-page paper. People don't say, "I are an engineer" for no reason. (On the reverse side of that coin, some liberal arts majors can't do simple math without the aid of a calculator).

At most universities, you can place out of certain requirements (like basic writing and basic math) with a minimum score on certain standardized or university-administered tests. If you can't, you take the classes. The universities, for selfish and obvious reasons, don't want to put out retards in the world who can't properly punctuate their sentences or calculate the tip on a bill.

/you want specialized training? go to a trade school. you want an education? go to college.


*trying to work out whether that's a compliment or not*
 
2012-07-30 09:29:03 PM

buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.


Yeah that's pretty much the kind of examples I used to teach him how to comprehend current, voltage, and resistance. =)
 
2012-07-30 09:29:07 PM

dericwater: meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.

The problem is understanding algebra too much won't get you even to first base, if you know what I mean.


That is absolutely not true. Algebra has gotten me laid as much as english or drama. The former working, the latter college.
 
2012-07-30 09:29:13 PM
Sorry, response to wrong post...
 
2012-07-30 09:30:01 PM
25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

static.guim.co.uk
 
2012-07-30 09:30:06 PM

buckler: caramba421: The solution should be to start shaming people that are innumerate. People that don't understand maths should be paraded through the streets with "RETARD" painted on their backs. Since most women respond negatively to reduced social status, the innumerate will no longer be able to get laid. The problem will solve itself after a couple of generations.

What an incredibly short-sighted and uninformed thing to say.


I thought it was very insightful and informed.
 
2012-07-30 09:30:06 PM

buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.


See?

I love thee.

*bow*
 
2012-07-30 09:32:09 PM

Indubitably: buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.

See?

I love thee.

*bow*


Well, thanks, if you're not sarcastically mocking me.
 
2012-07-30 09:33:16 PM

buckler: Indubitably: buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.

See?

I love thee.

*bow*

Well, thanks, if you're not sarcastically mocking me.


I'm not.
 
2012-07-30 09:34:14 PM

Indubitably: buckler: Indubitably: buckler: Agent Smiths Laugh: I once tutored someone in electrical theory by teaching him to think of electron flow as a river.

Huh. When I worked in a science museum's exhibits development lab, I made a preliminary sketch of a "water transistor", that would show how inputs affected the output of a transistor, using water, pipes and valves.

See?

I love thee.

*bow*

Well, thanks, if you're not sarcastically mocking me.

I'm not.


What else do you want, number-y'alls? ;)
 
2012-07-30 09:35:01 PM
Read my numbers.
 
2012-07-30 09:35:02 PM

dericwater: 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!

Not algebra. That's simple arithmetic.


It depends. Are you actually multiplying .09 by three, then multiplying .9 by three and adding it in, then multiplying 2 by three and adding it in again? Because that's the arithmetic approach and it's kind of a pain in the ass.

If you're adding a cent so that it's 3$, multiplying that by 3, then subtracting 1 cent *3 on the understanding that the addition and subtraction operations cancel each other out, then you're doing algebra.

As with most examples of the practical difference between Arithmetic and Algebra, it's a matter of understanding how the problem works in a broader sense versus just grinding blindly through something you've memorized, with the end result being saving a bunch of time and effort to reach the same answer. This is what we're talking about when we say it's a basic practical skill more on par with being able to sound out words or recognize that a period ends a sentence than some vague academic form of literary analysis.
 
2012-07-30 09:36:25 PM

Agent Smiths Laugh: But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.


Oh, I know exactly how good I am at math. I used to get Cs all through middle school and high school in math. Straight A in Trig, though, because I took it concurrently with Physics. I finally GOT it. I didn't learn to love math until my very last math class, though, which was Calc II but by then I was years behind other physics students and it would have taken me seven years to graduate and I'd be undesirable without a PhD anyway, so I changed majors.

I got math, and I was good at it, once I got to physics. Physics taught me algebra. Algebra class didn't even teach me equations. Took me at least a month to figure them out because they were floating there in space doing nothing.

While I'm aware math follows certain rules, rote teaching is the worst possible way to convey those rules. But we keep doubling down on the rote practice YEARS before we get to the practical side.

Much better is to dangle the carrot of the practical side FIRST. Then you go in and teach the rules. That would get the people with no natural gift back in the game.
 
2012-07-30 09:40:02 PM
admin.weathertrends360.com
 
2012-07-30 09:41:26 PM

Babwa Wawa: You're confusing mastery of algebra with basic algebra. .


idk what you mean by "mastery" of algebra, but you need to be competent enough to be comfy with algebra to deal with things like the normal distribution, exponentials, functions, and graphing equations. Really, you need to know calc to even understand the basics of probability distributions and CIs.

I realize this sounds douchy, but if your stats courses didn't involve any of that, you really didn't learn stats.
 
2012-07-30 09:42:13 PM
sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net
 
2012-07-30 09:42:19 PM
I think a big obstacle to math is that it isn't taught in a way that kids can readily see useful applications, so a lot of kids think it's useless and put in the effort they think it deserves. When kids see adults, like the author of TFA, saying math isn't very useful it only reinforces that view.

CSB:

My dad used to be a carpenter. When I was a kid, around 7 or so, I remember I complained about having to do math homework on the basis there was no point to it in the real world. My dad was like "O RLY?" then set about going through a series of exercises with me along the lines of:

"I'm building a roof, the room is 20 feet long and the joists are 16" apart, how many will I need" then "OK, so the roof is on a 2:1 slope, how long do the joists have to be" then "OK, a beam X feet long costs Y, how much will the roof joists cost" and so on. I spent more than a few afternoons getting run through a series of questions like that, where there was a clear and real goal.

I guess it worked, I ended up acing math from elementary school all the way through to the end of an engineering degree.
 
2012-07-30 09:43:01 PM

Mad Tea Party: Babwa Wawa: You're confusing mastery of algebra with basic algebra. .

idk what you mean by "mastery" of algebra, but you need to be competent enough to be comfy with algebra to deal with things like the normal distribution, exponentials, functions, and graphing equations. Really, you need to know calc to even understand the basics of probability distributions and CIs.

I realize this sounds douchy, but if your stats courses didn't involve any of that, you really didn't learn stats.


It's "douchie," thank you.
 
2012-07-30 09:46:29 PM

Rapmaster2000: 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.

IMHO, algebra is too often incorrectly taught as a series of steps rather than a concept.


Algebra is actually a way of thinking, a process of extracting the answer through, ahem, algebraic analysis. The other method would be trial and error guesses.

If I were to ask, "For each sack of potatoes I sell, I earn $50. But I have to pay a fixed rental of $500 for inventory storage and $1/sack for the labor to carry the sack to the cart. How many sacks do I have to sell to make enough to buy that pretty ring for my wife, the ring costing $350?" There is one way of solving this: guess the number of sacks and see how that compares to the $350. I would actually encourage people to try this for a while. There is another way, and that is state the problem using algebraic formulas and then extract the answer. (The term, "algebra" comes from the arabic, "al-jebr", reunion of broken parts: take the equation apart, and reform them in another way. You subtract the $500 from both sides, you divide by $49, on both sides, etc.)

So algebra proposes that answers can be solved by creating a mathematical model of the problem. The mathematical model is the object equation. You state what the variables (unknowns) are, and then through a process of breaking apart and rejoining, you extract the answer.

However, most real-life problems aren't solvable by this method. We know this because most problems are solved on computers using iterations of approximations to the answer. We input a guess, iterate until we get a stable solution using trial and error. Also, only first and second degree polynomial equations are easily solvable by using the "extraction" method. Once you go to fourth degree or higher, it's really difficult. And there are cases where it is mathematically impossible to solve via "extraction". A general fifth-degree polynomial is usually unsolvable by "divide both sides by 3, add 7 to both sides, take the cube-root of both sides..."

What happened is that math went from being a practical tool to help potato seller determine their shipping goals to more abstract understanding of the structure of mathematical objects. And the pedagogy and courses went along with this transition from practical tool to scientific exploration of a wholly human-created mental object (specifically, the integral domain that is the set of polynomials with rational - or real or complex - coefficients). Why? Because along the way, we saw some pretty cool stuff about how the structure of polynomials work. We saw that we can classify polynomials as expressions within a general idea of a function (a concept that is very applicable to programming). And among these functions, we can graph them, look at them, see what happens when you change the values of the coefficients.

But what is occurring is just day-dreaming by mathematicians. It's OCD on a polynomial. It has very little to do with practical everyday life. The potato seller doesn't care about cubic equations. He's never going to see one used with his sale of potatoes. Remember when you were a kid and you were practicing your handwriting? You wrote that "R" then you scripted it. Made it look fancy, made it bold, slanted it, wrote it backwards, wrote it in red, green... you can get pretty absorbed in that. You might even become a great font-creator, a typographist (like Steve Jobs). But it didn't help you communicate better.

What happened with math was taking that "R" and doing all those fancy things to it. Because once mathematicians looked at quadratics, they thought about cubics and quartics and, hey, what about negative degree polynomials? What about fractional degree polynomials (they're no longer polynomials, but...) What does it mean to be x^(3.5)? What does it mean to be x^y? And it goes from there. That's exploration, and that's basically what math books and math classes are teaching. Great if you plan to be a mathworld explorer (i.e., professor in mathematics looking at mathematical structures). But if you just want to figure out how many potatoes to sell, it's really a load of crap.
 
2012-07-30 09:47:54 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.


I totally disagree with this. I think high school teachers should have at minimum a bachelor's degree in Math, not some baloney education degree. The PRAXIS test for mathematics content should be a breeze. I thought it was incredibly easy, but I got a BS in math. The fact that people had to study for and struggled to pass that test, and go on to become math teachers, frightens the hell out of me.

You can't effectively teach mathematics unless you UNDERSTAND it.



/Went on to get a master's in math
//Teach at a community college
 
2012-07-30 09:49:44 PM

ontariolightning: 25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

[static.guim.co.uk image 460x898]


What is funny is while we are so low, trying to glean from the graphic on what the United States is doing wrong will do little. Several of the top countries have drastically different approaches to education, notably South Korea and Finland for the sheer divergence despite consistent results in the top three over the majority of subjects, and thus we cannot model ourselves directly after those. I believe what has worked for those countries instead of much of what we employ is modeling the system of education after the culture.
 
2012-07-30 09:51:39 PM

doglover: Agent Smiths Laugh: But I digress, I'm not trying to bust your balls but to show you that you're probably better at it then you've convinced yourself you are, because you already have and use the skills needed for it.

Oh, I know exactly how good I am at math. I used to get Cs all through middle school and high school in math. Straight A in Trig, though, because I took it concurrently with Physics. I finally GOT it. I didn't learn to love math until my very last math class, though, which was Calc II but by then I was years behind other physics students and it would have taken me seven years to graduate and I'd be undesirable without a PhD anyway, so I changed majors.

I got math, and I was good at it, once I got to physics. Physics taught me algebra. Algebra class didn't even teach me equations. Took me at least a month to figure them out because they were floating there in space doing nothing.

While I'm aware math follows certain rules, rote teaching is the worst possible way to convey those rules. But we keep doubling down on the rote practice YEARS before we get to the practical side.

Much better is to dangle the carrot of the practical side FIRST. Then you go in and teach the rules. That would get the people with no natural gift back in the game.


I was actually responding to buckler, but I agree with some of what you said. Having a practical framework tends to teach way better than pure rote.

I believe in teaching a fusion of methods, especially in math. Demonstrate the rules, but also demonstrate the rules in action. Show how the rules interact in an analogous format, like say, taking inventory of a storeroom (I've used that one before).

A friend of mine had a hard time understanding roots when should could do exponents just fine...then I showed her on paper (using arrow signs and such) that roots are just reversing the exponent process, and she finally got it. She just hadn't visualized that they are just a forwards/backwards process with different symbols telling you which direction you're going.
 
2012-07-30 09:53:48 PM

Indubitably: It's "douchie," thank you.


Science is my strong suit. Spelling and grammar, no so much.
 
2012-07-30 09:56:50 PM

Vangor: ontariolightning: 25th in Maths for the US.. ya, thats not good

[static.guim.co.uk image 460x898]

What is funny is while we are so low, trying to glean from the graphic on what the United States is doing wrong will do little. Several of the top countries have drastically different approaches to education, notably South Korea and Finland for the sheer divergence despite consistent results in the top three over the majority of subjects, and thus we cannot model ourselves directly after those. I believe what has worked for those countries instead of much of what we employ is modeling the system of education after the culture.


Canada is high on the list.. our culture is different but in a few ways similar to the US's
 
2012-07-30 09:57:21 PM

umad: You can't talk your way out of a wrong answer in math.


In higher math (mid to upper level undergrad math) you sure can.

Or at least, you can write a big mess of stuff and hope that there's enough in there to trick a grader into thinking you're closer than you are.
 
2012-07-30 09:58:14 PM

Nilatir: Because People in power are Stupid: Nilatir: To a certain extent this is true. Think back to college and you'll likely notice that the better a person is at very abstract concepts the worse they are in explaining those concepts to others.

That's the problem. You expect your teacher to "explain" something that is fundamentally visually based.

These expectations are really YOUR issue and not an issue with your teachers.

Blame the teacher if you can't persuade them to give you the grade that you want.

My degree requires courses up through Difficult Equations (with Stats and Combinatorial courses out to the side) so I understand what you mean by visual. But still "to teach" is to pass on information and skills and if the people teaching lack the skills to do that then I can see why, unless you come into a class already understanding the material (which many Engineering and Math students do), it could be frustrating for an Arts and Crafts major to overcome.


"Teaching" is a separate skillset than "knowing math". Put the two together and you find that the teacher is particularly challenged by lazy students making ridiculous assumptions about how the teacher is supposed to impart the knowledge in a book.

Generally one doesn't just "know math" which is what lazy American students seem to believe. It comes from drilling and doing work.

The problem is also Pavlovian. Everytime the students see the teacher -the teacher gives them work to do. Psychologically, the students then associate the teacher with this unpleasantness and subsequently blame the teacher when they fail to make an effort to get their homework done.

But that is not the hard part about teaching math. There are hardly those that are "English Phobic" or "Political Sciences Phobic". However, it is openly acceptable to be "math phobic". It's one of the many cop outs that lazy people come up with to blame the teacher, blame the subject and blame everyone except for themselves for not doing the work required to be good at math.
 
2012-07-30 09:58:16 PM
Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.
 
2012-07-30 09:58:53 PM

Jim_Callahan: State regents and legislators - and much of the public - take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master polynomial functions and parametric equations.

For the record, this argument applied to English would be:

"State regents and legislators - and much of the public - take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master two-syllable words and telling a verb from a noun."

This is pretty basic stuff that's vital to basic functioning in society here. It's the technical version of functional literacy. Things like calculating your gas mileage and creating a personal budget so you don't go into debt require algebra, which makes the "this isn't personal finance" comment rather puzzling as well.


Maybe you could encourage the under-performing students by throwing acid at those who fail. After all, if it's good enough for women in politics, it's good enough for students, right?
 
2012-07-30 09:59:13 PM

FizixJunkee: buckler: ProfessorOhki: The ability to think "outside the box" doesn't count in hard science.



Not true in theoretical physics.

\getting a PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics


Not true in experimental physics either. Without some creative thinking you'd never figure out why your experiment wasn't working. The problem is that these non-scientists think it's all follow the recipe experiments like in high school science.
 
2012-07-30 10:01:49 PM

Agent Smiths Laugh: She just hadn't visualized that they are just a forwards/backwards process with different symbols telling you which direction you're going.


I had the same problem with roots and division, again because of the notation.

The root sign is silly and looks weird and makes no sense. But x to the fraction makes perfect sense.

Most of the problems with math are the same problems with gambling or dungeons and dragons or any other high barrier to entry game. It LOOKS intimidating. Once you figure out what all the symbols mean, and the jargon, you find it's easy as pi.

What they have to do is clean up basic math notation so it looks less intimidating and makes more sense.
 
2012-07-30 10:02:10 PM
distlib.blogs.com

Math isn't hard.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:10 PM
John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that "mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school."

Perhaps then we should cancel English class: the Shakespeare we read in school differs markedly from the stuff we have to read in our cubicles at work.

And pretty much everything else in this guy's article could be applied to Shakespeare as well.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:32 PM

Mad Tea Party: Indubitably: It's "douchie," thank you.

Science is my strong suit. Spelling and grammar, no so much.


This is precisely why you need me.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:33 PM

dericwater: Algebra is actually a way of thinking, a process of extracting the answer through, ahem, algebraic analysis. The other method would be trial and error guesses.


Actually, the other method would be arithmetic, i.e. using a canned method you've memorized to execute a predefined operation. We had an example a few posts up.

Most methods of trial and error guesswork are algebraic in nature, you're constructing a methodology to narrow down large range into a smaller range. The one non-algebraic method would be to make a complete shot in the dark, once you're working with guesses plural, you're applying algebraic (or I guess Calculus depending on what exactly you're doing) methods. Albeit it's an operation on a vector rather than a scalar quantity, but still.
 
2012-07-30 10:04:46 PM

fartacus: Wow, what a dumbass. If you aren't capable of doing simple algebra, your "political opinion" and "social analysis" is worthless.


I would bet you not one official in Obama's cabinet (besides Dr Stephen Chu) or Bush's or Clinton's or... going back to George Washington could use the quadratic formula to solve a quadratic equation. If it were the quartic formula for a quartic equation, you can throw in Chu in the mix. So are they all dumbasses and unfit to set policy?
 
2012-07-30 10:06:00 PM
I am a Master of English, actually...
 
2012-07-30 10:06:30 PM

hitlersbrain: Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.


I know, we can just go back to describing everything with words rather than symbols, because that wasn't clunky at all.
 
2012-07-30 10:07:32 PM

lockers: dericwater: meow said the dog: LAUGHTER OL if you cannot understand the simple algebra then you do not deserve to get to second base at all. That clasps are on the front of those silly.

The problem is understanding algebra too much won't get you even to first base, if you know what I mean.

That is absolutely not true. Algebra has gotten me laid as much as english or drama. The former working, the latter college.


Really? How did you incorporate algebra into your patter and still maintain interest?
 
2012-07-30 10:08:44 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.


Agreed. And through in a class on critical thinking skills as well.
 
2012-07-30 10:09:06 PM

FloydA: Maybe you could encourage the under-performing students by throwing acid at those who fail. After all, if it's good enough for women in politics, it's good enough for students, right?


Nothing to say on this topic, eh? Did it occur to you that maybe the best plan in that case might be not to post anything? I know that's not algebra as such but there's some logic involved, at least.
 
2012-07-30 10:09:24 PM

Pincy: 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.

Agreed. And through in a class on critical thinking skills as well.


Oops, "throw", not "through".

/I'm tired.
 
2012-07-30 10:10:14 PM

ontariolightning: Canada is high on the list.. our culture is different but in a few ways similar to the US's


I do not mean "drastically different" from the United States' in terms of culture or approach but with each other. As far as I know, and forgive me as I have never lived in Canada nor visited for long, tuition rates are lower (for public universities), teacher prestige is higher (pay, benefits, standards, etc.,), and material resources (funding per school across districts) for schools is more even, which speaks to me of a commitment to education and seems an expectation of Canadians I know to have access to and continue through education (by this I mean at least finish secondary school). We share similarities, but where we diverge is the significant part with commitment in the system and culture, which to me is the reason for this working well for Canada.
 
2012-07-30 10:10:58 PM

Skirl Hutsenreiter: hitlersbrain: Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.

If you're well endowed you can fall back on being a porn star, but for everyone else, you would best be served to learn math.

Seriously though, math is one of those fields infested with smug assholes. Math is not that hard but a lot of these assholes want you to think it is. Like it cousin, science, math needs to be overhauled and made easier for normal people to learn and understand. A good start would be to toss all the latin shiat and clean up those stupid goddamn squiggles in the formulas. These areas of knowledge are too important to be left to a bunch of people who only do it because they are too emotionally stunted to do anything else but sit around and try to decipher that crap.

I know, we can just go back to describing everything with words rather than symbols, because that wasn't clunky at all.


How many people read short hand? If they did would they be smarter? How many people would be illiterate if shorthand was the only way to read or write?

It's the computer age, ditch the farking chalk and arcane symbols so people with a life can understand WTF you are doing.
 
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