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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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18709 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 10:11:21 PM
I need to jump on the "the way they teach is flawed" bandwagon. I failed Algebra 1 three times in highschool. My IQ is 99th percentile and I have been programming C++ since I was in 6th grade. I took a math placement test in I think it was 5th or 6th grade, which included algebra and other advanced mathematics before they actually taught us pre algebra etc, to gauge the populace knowledge. Not only did I score the highest in my school, I had the 23rd highest score in the entire country (don't remember how many states used the same test, but it was a widely used standardized thing).

Needless to say, I farking knew algebra. Didn't matter, because I didn't follow their template they teach from. I finally was lucky enough to be withdrawn from public school, and my parents shelled out for a private education my junior year. At private school, I completed 4 years worth of math in less than 2 years, and damn was it easy once they let me do my own thing.

There is a problem with our public schools. End of story.
 
2012-07-30 10:12:42 PM

Because People in power are Stupid: There are hardly those that are "English Phobic"


Are you joking?

Have you ever BEEN to school. In America, you don't see it all the time because we're monolingual and most people can speak English just fine so we don't even teach it.

But there's plenty of people who're afraid of a wall of text or words they don't know. There's also hundred of thousands of non Native speakers who are utterly and totally convinced that they can't speak English. And they sit there and they tell me IN PERFECT ENGLISH that they can't speak English over a beer. But if you asked them to make that little speech about how English is hard on a test, they'd pass out from nervousness. English phobia is very real, my friend.
 
2012-07-30 10:13:41 PM

Vangor: 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.


i would agree with that assessment
 
2012-07-30 10:14:22 PM

wingedkat:

Based on your profile, I was expecting some sort of pointed sexist attack I wasn't seeing. Now I'm just disappointed, because you are actually just not very good at this. Don't worry, practice makes perfect!


You are a particular breed of ignoramus. No, really -look in the mirror and say it: "Ignoramus". Let it dance on your mouth as you sound out each syllable. The word suits you and this is why:

You base your assumptions about the validity of what one is saying based upon what you know about them -not on the validity of what they are saying.

Since we are talking about math: if someone online says that 2+2 =4 then the validity of that statement is only verified if you can look at their profile. Since my profile is entirely fake -you make assumptions about what I'm supposed to say based on that.

Does it shock you that I am not a feathered dinosaur wearing a hat and holding a cane? -Ignoramus, you should change your profile name.
 
2012-07-30 10:14:36 PM

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


You really think that the mobius inversion formula would magically make sense to people if only we described it in plain English?

Perhaps you could do us a favor and state that formula in plain English, so we can see how much clearer it becomes?
 
2012-07-30 10:16:36 PM

dericwater: How did you incorporate algebra into your patter and still maintain interest?


"Hey baby on the corner in fishnets at this late hour. I'll give you n to ten dollars where n is the number of times you make me feel good in my penis. "
 
2012-07-30 10:19:32 PM

doglover: Because People in power are Stupid: There are hardly those that are "English Phobic"

Are you joking?

Have you ever BEEN to school. In America, you don't see it all the time because we're monolingual and most people can speak English just fine so we don't even teach it.

But there's plenty of people who're afraid of a wall of text or words they don't know. There's also hundred of thousands of non Native speakers who are utterly and totally convinced that they can't speak English. And they sit there and they tell me IN PERFECT ENGLISH that they can't speak English over a beer. But if you asked them to make that little speech about how English is hard on a test, they'd pass out from nervousness. English phobia is very real, my friend.


I was speaking about a phobia in the same context that people are math phobic. I figured that the readers were smart enough to figure out what I meant without quibbling on some obscure exception where someone is literally scared of learning a new language. For the record I was referring to native English speakers who would attend a regular English class and suffer from something akin to "math phobia". Sorry for my assumptions.
 
2012-07-30 10:20:34 PM

ontariolightning: i would agree with that assessment


Wait... you agree? But this is Fark! We can't agree. That is like dividing by zero.

/glad to know I am not far off
//such a strange intersect between the culture and the system
 
2012-07-30 10:21:08 PM

ontariolightning: Vangor: 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.

i would agree with that assessment


In Japan, there's a billions of yen strong industry of juku (they call them cram schools, but really it's tutoring services) and nearly every child is sent to one at some point in their careers. It's not uncommon for grade school children to be seen as late as 8 PM going home from these expensive tutoring sessions.

So while Japanese math class may look a lot like ours on paper, the whole education system here revolves around a lot of outside tutoring and every subject is rote memorization.
 
2012-07-30 10:23:22 PM
Come to think of it, if they would teach basic computer programming skills starting from a very young age (ie as they're learning how to use computers), i have a feeling people would be MUCH better at algebra. I seem to recall that most students were frustrated by the fact that algebra seems abstract... its hard to apply it to "real life" from a childs mind. Programming would bridge that gap nicely, as the students would understand manipulating variables etc in a very logic driven way.

/Disclaimer: ive always been a computer nerd, from the first time i touched one in elementary school
 
2012-07-30 10:24:10 PM

Vegan Meat Popsicle: Everything that exists in the universe is, basically, a giant math problem.

But why learn even the basics of the language of all creation when you could just pound out a degree in political science and get paid to expand stupid questions in the New York Times into a thousand word screed against basic competency, right?


Dude, seriously.. it's been 80 years since Kurt Godel proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that math is not the language of the universe. Either you get a system strong enough to verify every possible truth (but it also verifies certain untruths), or you get a system that only verifies things that are actually true (but can't verify certain truths). Math as we know it belongs to the second category (which is A Good Thing).

It all boils down to the fact that you can't prove some important and incredibly useful principles without using the law of the excluded middle, and you can't prove the vailidity of the law of the excluded middle without A) enumerating an infinite set, or B) using the law of the excluded middle. Neither alternative pleases.

Heck, the entire field of calculus is basically a way of working around the fact that division by zero is 'undefined' (speed is distance divided by time. Instantaneous speed is an object's speed at a specific moment (i.e.: time = 0). Therefore the definition of instantaneous speed requires you to divide by zero). Newton and Leibnitz made it work at a "yeah, we get the right answers" level, but it took another century for Cauchy to wallpaper over the hole they made in the basic foundations of math.

If you can't get into the 21st century, at least try to get into the second half of the 20th.

And for the rest of the peanut gallery:

'Algebra' is what happens when you combine an operation equivalent to 'addition' with an operation equivalent to 'mutiplication'. There are certain additional rules the system has to obey (zen cookie for the first person capable of listing them), but those are the basic pieces.

"If a box of pencils costs $A, a notebook costs $B, and various other school supplies cost $D ... $K, how much does it cost to kit three kids out for the start of school?" is an algebra problem. Please stop hurting my head by claiming there's some difference between "basic adding and multiplying" and "algebra".

.. but yes, I'll agree that not one damn person in the history of mathematics has ever used the quadratic theorem to do anything other than find the roots of a second-order differential equation.
 
2012-07-30 10:24:35 PM
Considering the level of reading comprehension displayed by this thread I can only conclude that Americans need more liberal arts and less math.
 
2012-07-30 10:27:05 PM

Because People in power are Stupid: I was speaking about a phobia in the same context that people are math phobic.


So am I. You can't just reduce your argument's assumption to "I was assuming cases where I am correct."

Math is a symbolic language. We don't grow up speaking it. We don't need it to learn the basic skills it uses, as they are cross disciplinary. So someone who is "math phobic" is more like someone learning English as a second language than you realize.
 
2012-07-30 10:34:39 PM
A journalism major whining that algebra is too hard. Who'da thunk?

Algebra is logic. It's a method of approaching problems, breaking them down, and finding solutions.

If you're not capable of doing algebra, I have to doubt your ability to think rationally or come to logically-derived conclusions.

And claiming that algebra can be replaced with statistics or probability just shows that you have no clue how do those, either (but again, journalists).
 
2012-07-30 10:37:21 PM

Mad Tea Party: 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.


If you really think that a person needs calculus before being merely introduced to the concepts and some of the math associated with probability and statistics, then you are part of the problem.

Mastery is a term used by educators for a method of teaching. An example would be that you teach a child how to add single digits. Once he's demonstrated mastery of single digit addition, you teach single digit subtraction. Once that's done you go on to double digit addition with no carry-overs. And so on.

This is not how math (or any subject, for that matter) is taught in elementary school. You get instruction and practice a topic (such as carry-over addition), then move on to something like fractions, then loop back a week or two later to the carry-over addition. This is a far more successful approach to teaching pretty much every subject, but it's completely abandoned in most math curricula starting in 7th grade. This method is especially devastating because the cognitive structures required to grasp abstract mathematical thought do not usually exist before the age of 11, and can sometimes not appear until the mid-teens.

Yet mastery method is how math is taught from 7th-12th grade. As a result, it's at least four years of abstract math before the student gets to apply it in chemistry or physics or statistics. As a result, only kids who are motivated to do well academically or just naturals retain or even enjoy math. If you show the kids how what they're learning can be applied as you're teaching it, or better yet teach the application (statistics) in conjunction with the method (algebra), you'll get much better participation.

Oh, and by the way, you don't "learn" anything in a 100 level course. 100-level courses are introductions - surveys at best. I certainly hope you wouldn't say you "learned American History" or "learned German" after taking 3 goddam credit hours in it.
 
2012-07-30 10:37:56 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.


The last time I attempted to learn pre-calc I became suicidal. Fail test --> walk out of classroom --> look down at parking lot below me --> have sudden, overwhelming impulse to throw myself off the balcony. Fun fun!
 
2012-07-30 10:39:34 PM

hitlersbrain: 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.


This is like saying that musicians should stop using musical notation in scores, but rather teach parts entirely by copying performances by ear just because you never learned to read music. I guarantee, if you'd ever tried reading pre-symbol mathematical treatises, you'd thank the heavens they came up with a better way.
 
2012-07-30 10:40:23 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.


Somebody needs to take a communications class, to better hone his interpersonal "skillz."
 
2012-07-30 10:43:42 PM

colonel0sanders: 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


I should have been more clear, I do not advocate for people who are terrible at math to teach it.

I advocate that people who are good at math but don't *love* it should be teaching math. I object to the programs which automatically try to shunt surplus math majors into teaching degrees if they dislike accounting and cant compete in academia. I don't think that a love of math automatically makes someone a good teacher of it. Plenty of Engineers, scientists, and carpenters use math all the time without viewing it as anything other than a tool, and get into the "real world" and discover they are ill-suited for their jobs.

This is not to say that someone who loves math is necessarily a bad teacher... but if someone loved learning something that was taught in a way that failed 80% of their peers, going on to teach it the same will just continue a cycle of bad teaching.
 
2012-07-30 10:45:33 PM

Alonjar: /Disclaimer: ive always been a computer nerd, from the first time i touched one in elementary school


Why were you touching a computer nerd?
 
2012-07-30 10:46:00 PM
I was disastrously shiatty at algebra in high school. I felt bad back then and I still do to this day.

Will I have to grab the basic algebra book I ganked out of local college a few years ago,
and re-teach myself each blasted...property a whole month at a time, as if I were
totally witless and didn't even understand what a stinking integer was?

Dear gods isn't there an easier way to learn it!?
 
2012-07-30 10:51:22 PM

Isildur: When it comes to math, people often make the mistake of thinking about education in terms of "How many of these kids will actually need this?" What such a question entirely misses is that failing to teach a kid something as scientifically fundamental as algebra, would close off entire career avenues to her or him.


This bears repeating. The author's plan would put many more talented high-school freshmen on a math track that would take them away from being to go into math, natural science, engineering, or economics later on, and I think that's too early for that.
 
2012-07-30 10:52:42 PM

Skirl Hutsenreiter: 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.


I'd argue that "outside the box" thinking is critical for the hard sciences for THIS reason and many others.

To those who argue about whether Math majors should teach math, my experience is that my worst math teachers were those for whom math came easily. The best ones had to work at it and had some understanding of different learning styles.

My brother is one of those for whom math is easy, and always has been. It was so obvious to him; that made it hard for him to understand how students could struggle with problems/proofs that he found so simple.
 
2012-07-30 10:52:43 PM

Jim_Callahan: 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.


Has it occurred to you that maybe when you said that we should "hurl some acid" at people,and that it was "just a colloquialism," someone might have taken offense at that, for some reason?

Has it ever occurred to you that saying that your your political opponents deserve incredibly horrible torture and permanent disfiguration might cause offense?

Did it ever occur to you, even once, that saying "Let's hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won't abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."
~Jay Townsend

might not be acceptable political speech?

Or are you going to stick with the "he didn't really mean it" bullshiat and continue to defend acid attacks?

This is really a test of your character here. If you continue to say that it's acceptable for people to advocate "hurling acid at those female democratic senators," then you are beneath contempt.

You made it very clear that you think advocating throwing acid at your political opponents is just fine because, in your opinion, it's just "idiomatic phraseology not being meant to be taken literally."

I've made my opinion clear, that this type of threat is beyond the pale of acceptable political speech.

Until you say "Oh, yeah, that is over the line," I have to assume that you meant what you said.

So, are you willing to condemn acid attacks on your political opponents, or do you still think it's just an "idiomatic phraseology not being meant to be taken literally"?

I'm not going to let this go. In your opinion, is it, or is it not, acceptable to advocate throwing acid at people?
 
2012-07-30 10:57:34 PM
Hispanics have lower IQ's. That's why the standards are lower. More hispanics, the lower the standards to appear more 'equal'. Now go home and get some sleep, nerds!
 
2012-07-30 10:58:17 PM
As an archeologist... I had to do algebra. How many holes, how many transects on this field. It's got a slope, how many holes do I add as I go along to get the required minimum coverage?

As a programmer & database manager... Oh, you bet I use math.

As a Voter... If I didn't understand math I might end up voting for someone who has policies that are completely at odds with my interests and beliefs.
 
2012-07-30 11:02:53 PM

EvilEgg: 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.

Forcing the Red Badge of Courage and the Great Gatsby on students is a waste also. Have you ever need to know anything about those books?


Yes, actually. I won a bar bet with a guy who wouldn't believe Stephen Crane was not a Civil War veteran. I only knew that because I wrote a book report on The Red Badge of Courage in 4th grade. Clearly, that justifies the entire liberal arts department at every school in America.
 
2012-07-30 11:09:13 PM
Oh gods...I just remembered I have an Asimov book ON ALGEBRA

danmarce 2012-07-30 06:43:09 PM

I will just leave this here:

The Feeling Of Power by Isaac Asimov

\Dude was right in sooooo many ways.


THANK YOU!!!!
 
2012-07-30 11:09:39 PM

All_Farked_Up: Problem with american schools? Lack of 2 parents and or lack of involvement.


If parents have to spend hours every night teaching their children they may as well home school. If teachers expect parents to do their jobs for them they should not be paid. I never had a job where someone did my work for me.
 
2012-07-30 11:10:54 PM

yingtong: Dude, seriously.. it's been 80 years since Kurt Godel proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that math is not the language of the universe. Either you get a system strong enough to verify every possible truth (but it also verifies certain untruths), or you get a system that only verifies things that are actually true (but can't verify certain truths). Math as we know it belongs to the second category (which is A Good Thing).


Sigh... way to take a simplistic macro concept and beat it to death on a micro scale. Your statement is invalid if for no other reason than you would need a standard definition of "language" in this context, which isnt going to happen because we're discussing something abstract. Its nice that you are obviously educated, but making such statements makes you come off as a dick who sucks at communication.

/Why yes, astrophysics is a passion of mine, why do you ask?
 
2012-07-30 11:12:11 PM
That would be TWO much math, moran.
 
2012-07-30 11:12:20 PM

Because People in power are Stupid: wingedkat:

Based on your profile, I was expecting some sort of pointed sexist attack I wasn't seeing. Now I'm just disappointed, because you are actually just not very good at this. Don't worry, practice makes perfect!

You are a particular breed of ignoramus. No, really -look in the mirror and say it: "Ignoramus". Let it dance on your mouth as you sound out each syllable. The word suits you and this is why:

You base your assumptions about the validity of what one is saying based upon what you know about them -not on the validity of what they are saying.

Since we are talking about math: if someone online says that 2+2 =4 then the validity of that statement is only verified if you can look at their profile. Since my profile is entirely fake -you make assumptions about what I'm supposed to say based on that.

Does it shock you that I am not a feathered dinosaur wearing a hat and holding a cane? -Ignoramus, you should change your profile name.


Yes, yes, you are very clever. You had me completely fooled. Go get yourself a cookie.

/Ignoramus is a splendid fark handle. I vaguely remember him being around when I joined Fark, actually. guess we lost him to reddit, and in poor grace too.
//shameful.
 
2012-07-30 11:12:57 PM

Gough: Skirl Hutsenreiter: 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.

I'd argue that "outside the box" thinking is critical for the hard sciences for THIS reason and many others.

To those who argue about whether Math majors should teach math, my experience is that my worst math teachers were those for whom math came easily. The best ones had to work at it and had some understanding of different learning styles.

My brother is one of those for whom math is easy, and always has been. It was so obvious to him; that made it hard for him to understand how students could struggle with problems/proofs that he found so simple.


Totally agree with the last statement. I'm one of the dumber math grad students in my department and it takes me forever to learn anything new compared to others in my year. For this reason I think I'm probably the best teacher of the bunch, though, for what that's worth.

And for those of you who think that "thinking outside the box" doesn't apply to pure mathematics, tell that to Grothendieck, who essentially combined number theory, geometry, topology while simultaneously developing category theory. The correct definition of a scheme was just one of the hugely creative and important ideas of mathematics in the last century that he contributed. He's like the Einstein of mathematics of the 20th century.
 
2012-07-30 11:23:12 PM

Babwa Wawa: If you really think that a person needs calculus before being merely introduced to the concepts and some of the math associated with probability and statistics, then you are part of the problem.


How do you teach about the normal distribution without algebra? Standard deviation? Even the ground-level stuff like probability distributions require the concept of area under a curve, which you really need calc to deal with properly.


Babwa Wawa: Oh, and by the way, you don't "learn" anything in a 100 level course. 100-level courses are introductions - surveys at best.


So let's water down the curriculum even more?
 
2012-07-30 11:25:51 PM

yingtong: Dude, seriously.. it's been 80 years since Kurt Godel proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that math is not the language of the universe. Either you get a system strong enough to verify every possible truth (but it also verifies certain untruths), or you get a system that only verifies things that are actually true (but can't verify certain truths). Math as we know it belongs to the second category (which is A Good Thing).


Godel's Incompleteness Theorem states that in any sufficiently advanced axiomatic system, there will be truths that are unprovable and falsehoods that are provable. That doesn't mean that "math isn't the language of the Universe". That's like saying because it's impossible to determine if a given C program will ever halt, C isn't a programming language. It is entirely possible that, while mathematics is an incomplete system, the Universe itself is describable using math from the consistent subset. What's more likely, in my opinion, is that if we do end up with a theory of everything (which I believe we will), we won't be able to be absolutely sure that it is a theory of everything.
 
2012-07-30 11:28:48 PM

bcbwilla: But don't you guys get it! Algebra is hard! If we stops teaching the hard math then no one has to worry about learning anymore of that hard math stuff anymore and the problem goes away *poof* problem solved OKAY GUYS.


...but then we'll be dead last in the world in math, and that means....

MOAR STANDARDIZED TESTING!!!
 
2012-07-30 11:31:28 PM
I used to know why the circle could not be squared, in spite of kitty=sh*tty@math.

It has always been impossible, it will always be impossible, and I'd like to crotchkick anyone that imagines it can be done.

It has to do with the nature of PI and that bastard are ROUND, not square like goddamned cornbread.

/BTW I like a good batch of cornbread.
 
2012-07-30 11:32:19 PM

Kittypie070: I used to know why the circle could not be squared, in spite of kitty=sh*tty@math.

It has always been impossible, it will always be impossible, and I'd like to crotchkick anyone that imagines it can be done.

It has to do with the nature of PI and that bastard are ROUND, not square like goddamned cornbread.

/BTW I like a good batch of cornbread.


I've had square pie.
 
Ehh
2012-07-30 11:32:47 PM
As a math-challenged former high school English teacher, it is with authority that I say that is the stupidest thing I've heard in many many years. Math is beautiful. Math teaches you how to think. Math is the universal language. The more you learn, the better.
 
2012-07-30 11:34:44 PM

Russky:
I'm not ignoring it at all, the point being there is a higher demand right now for scientific degrees but people aren't taking those.


Perhaps if there were, I dunno, JOBS at the other end of all the bullsh*ttery that one needs to go through to get the degree perhaps more students might take the courses. If there were as much "demand" as some people are whining about (which is just more bullsh*ttery so they can H1-B and outsource this country to death) then unemployment rates in STEM-related careers would be virtually ZERO, and we know that's not happening.

I just completed my degree, and in those years I took pre-algebra (hadn't seen a classroom for over 15 years, needed the update), algebra, macroeconomics, statistics and logic... all passed with A's... and I was a Graphic Design major. Took the logic course because I liked it.
If I'm going to bust my ass to be good at something, I'm going to do it for one of three reasons: 1. I like doing it, 2. I'm getting paid phat cheddar for doing it, or 3. a combination of 1 and 2. I'm not going to do it because someone "demands" I do it, I'm going to do it for my own selfish reasons and no others.

We need to make sure there are jobs for the people we are encouraging to take these courses, and they should pay enough to be worth the effort.
 
2012-07-30 11:39:10 PM

buckler: Kittypie070: I used to know why the circle could not be squared, in spite of kitty=sh*tty@math.

It has always been impossible, it will always be impossible, and I'd like to crotchkick anyone that imagines it can be done.

It has to do with the nature of PI and that bastard are ROUND, not square like goddamned cornbread.

/BTW I like a good batch of cornbread.

I've had square pie.


You mean cobbler?
 
2012-07-30 11:52:58 PM
Or, as they say in the UK, "too many maths."
 
BBH
2012-07-30 11:56:00 PM
Why is it okay for people to be illiterate using numbers, but it is inexcusible to be illiterate with words?
 
2012-07-31 12:03:07 AM

buckler: PlatypusPuke: I think it's all in how you teach a subject.

I (optimistically) believe that anyone can understand anything if whatever's being taught can be done so in a way that relates to something that the student already understands.

Now that I am studying mathematics for its own sake, I can offer one thing that would've helped me immensely as a youngster when it came to learning math.

All those stupid, pointless, boring "exercises?" I could not understand why I'd ever use quadratic equations in life as a youngster, and that's what I thought the exercises were for. What would've helped me out is if someone had told me that doing those exercises is a lot like practicing a musical instrument, or practicing using a shop tool. Doing mathematical exercises is all about getting used to the "feel" of a certain tool. Imagine using a chiseling tool for whittling on some wood. Each time you do that, your goal isn't to carve out David. It's to get used to how the tool feels in your hand, how the wood responds to different pressures and angles, etc. Over time, you can sort of mindlessly do it, much like driving a stick shift. You do it without even thinking about it. The point isn't getting good at calculus or trig and applying it later on to a specific thing, per se, it's all about becoming comfortable with using the various tools. Like a craftsman.

Mathematical exercises are the EXACT same thing in my mind: to get used to handing and wielding the tool effectively, not grinding mindlessly on some super-abstract idea that has zero appreciable impact on your life. It's not so much the ends as it is understanding the means and getting good with manipulating the tool itself. And of all the tools available to us on this planet, none is more pervasive or useful as mathematics.

I gently urge anyone out there who believes themselves (as I once was) to be "not a math person," to give the subject another chance. The hardest part about math is finding a learning resou ...


In fourth grade, my teacher would call on us, we would stand up and he would ask a math question and we'd sit down. I didn't know the answer once so I was made to stand there like an idiot guessing while the teacher egged the entire class on to point and laugh at my dumb ass. I'll never forget it.

Needless to say, that hamstrung my math studies throughout my entire school years. For all I know, I could've been a rocket scientist, but we'll never know now, will we Mr. Hakeman?

Asshole.
 
2012-07-31 12:03:17 AM

namatad: I hope that mathematics departments can also create courses in the history and philosophy of their discipline, as well as its applications in early cultures. Why not mathematics in art and music - even poetry

no
there is no need to teach ANY of these useless topics. history? worthless. science? useless. philosophy is for morons. literature, writing, reading? only librarians would need these useless skillz.

school should require only recess, lunch, sex, internet stuff and how to get cheat codes for video games.

/LOLOLOLOL I love when morons think that the topics that they hate are worthless


I guarantee the students would get more life use out of the classes you suggest than philosophy and literature.

not saying those are useless, just not useful. sex and internet stuff... useful. If in your everyday life you are referencing to Descartes or Kant to aide in your decision making process, you are living in a different world than I am.
 
2012-07-31 12:07:19 AM

PlatypusPuke: In fourth grade, my teacher would call on us, we would stand up and he would ask a math question and we'd sit down. I didn't know the answer once so I was made to stand there like an idiot guessing while the teacher egged the entire class on to point and laugh at my dumb ass. I'll never forget it.

Needless to say, that hamstrung my math studies throughout my entire school years. For all I know, I could've been a rocket scientist, but we'll never know now, will we Mr. Hakeman?

Asshole.


I had a teacher like that for Algebra II. She also was the kind of teacher that said things like "here's the formula for foo, memorize it" without explaining why it worked.

I was saved the next year by my calculus teacher, Mr. Ryan. He explained why the formulas worked, what the reasoning was behind limits and derivatives, and took the time to actually explain things. He even pulled me out of his regular class and created an unofficial class with me and two other guys that ended up getting to work on Calculus II stuff. He was a fantastic teacher.

(Sad note, he was run out of town for having the audacity to marry a black woman. I'm not kidding, his teaching contract was not renewed and it was an open secret as to why. I hated that little town.)
 
2012-07-31 12:22:46 AM
Kittypie070 Oh gods...I just remembered I have an Asimov book ON ALGEBRA

Every day I offer up thanks to the Comrades at Tyuratam for the FUD engendered in the U.S. by their spinning up their little Sputnik. Elementary school math/science curriculum was pushed hard. All students who exhibited interest & proficiency were tracked into voluntary/advanced summer school. The book used during the first summer was Asimov's Realm of Numbers. Got his Understanding Physics when I was 11.

Another book that might be of some utility (in the more general sense): G. Polya, How To Solve It.
 
2012-07-31 12:23:31 AM
Because People in power are Stupid
Generally one doesn't just "know math" which is what lazy American students seem to believe. It comes from drilling and doing work.


Looking back at my school days, I've come to the conclusion that my least popular teacher was probably one of my best; I had him in math for my three final years and some years earlier in math and physics.

CSB:
Besides being disliked for his personality and crazy views, part of your grade in his classes depended on how well you were able to recite and explain(!) the content of the last lesson (without your notes, of course):
He would pick some student at random, grade the summary of the previous lesson and announce and write down the grade since those lesson summaries would be somewhat important for your final grade.
If you couldn't deliver or didn't do well enough, you got a bad grade and a pretty good chance to be "randomly" selected again soon (so that failing didn't mean you were of the hook for the rest of the semester) and then someone else would have to do the summary; any gaps, ambiguities, errors or missed details were either corrected by the teacher or given as a question to someone else.

In short, you had to go into _every_ lesson prepared for an oral exam.
And you couldn't just say "fark this, next class might be a completely different topic" if you didn't understand something that day.
It sucked big time; I usually spent part of breakfast reading my math notes instead of the morning paper or, if his class was later in the day, part of recess going over the notes.
But holy fark did this work.

His other unpopular measure was giving us one "final exam problem" (final exam = written test where you have 5 hours for 3 problems, i.e. solving a single one was supposed to take 1-2 hours) as part of our homework each week, usually over the weekend.
And to repeat: holy f*ck, did this work.

When our final exams came around, we had several days off from school to prepare.
I think you got 2 or 3 days as preparation between your two final "Leistungskurs" (literally: "performance course"; think "major" or a mixture of advanced placement and honors course)
I spent two days preparing for the exam in one "major" (chemistry)..
.. while my preparation for the other (math) consisted of hanging out with a girlfriend whose exams were already over (different "majors"=different days) and 20 minutes of checking that I still had the most important theorems memorized correctly.
With the constant repetition and solving one problem of final exam caliber each week for a year, there was only shiat that you knew you could do and shiat you simply couldn't prepare for (15% of the exam was to solve a kind of problem completely new to you, e.g. having to find a proof for a theorem that you've never heard before)
 
2012-07-31 12:32:12 AM
I've got one word for this stupid author: Pot Odds.
 
2012-07-31 12:36:39 AM
We need more math, not less. Frankly, we need more of everything.
Kids are dumb as a bag of sand today. Teaching them less isn't the answer.

As for "never use it", STFU. You use it more than you realize.
Even if you don't for some reason, then others do.
You have no way of knowing what a person will or will not need in their life.

We're on the road to living out "Marching Morons", and it scares me. I don't want to change jobs ever few years.
 
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