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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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2012-07-31 10:45:29 AM

YouBWrong: The author has a point. Math is not for everyone.


Neither is literature, science, history, music, art or foreign languages.

For that matter, neither is graduation.

However, it is reasonable to require high school graduates to have a little bit of all of these subjects, and to handle the core subjects with at least a "high school" level of competence. And "high school" algebra is actually pretty basic: many kids cover it in 8th grade, and spend high school taking trig, calc, etc.

The argument that only a tiny handful of people need higher math is silly: only a tiny handful of people need to know Shakespeare for their jobs, and only a tiny handful of people need to know the details of the Louisiana Purchase. It's easy to argue against anything taught in school using this reasoning, and hence one should question the reasoning.
 
2012-07-31 10:47:31 AM

YouBWrong: Requiring high school students to learn algebra while cutting funding for arts, and foreign language studies implies that algebra is somehow universally useful. It is not.


But art is? LOL. Math is waaaaay more useful.
 
2012-07-31 10:47:42 AM

Inflatable Rhetoric: ontariolightning: [admin.weathertrends360.com image 436x526]

See?

This is why it's crucial that we keep the football games in college, lest we slide even lower.


But, in 35 years of electrical and electronics engineering, I have never had to solve a differential equation. Rocket people might, with equations of motion, and trying to hit a planet.
 
2012-07-31 11:13:26 AM

Quex: Algebra? Yes. Daily life.

Calculus? Yes. Any career in the sciences or with numbers.

Trigonometry? Well... actually, I can see where this should be a specialty class. I mean, it's not so much that it's HARD, it just doesn't have much application unless you're going into drafting or astronomy.


Trigonometry is a necessary prerequisite for calculus. How can you integrate 1/sqrt(1-x^2) if you don't know any trigonometry?

Trig is also hugely relevant to complex arithmetic, and signal processing. JPEG images are based on the discrete cosine transform, which like the Fourier transform decomposes a signal into a set of trigonometric functions.

/So that means you actually fap to trigonometry.
 
2012-07-31 11:18:02 AM

nameofperson: degenerate-afro: Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.

Not as long as Raptor Regan has a say in matters

[i.imgur.com image 850x478]

The communists will never succeed!

I love how it's supposed to be a "America, Fark Yeah!" pic, but he's wielding a german SMG and has a russian RPG on his back.
Communism strikes again!

/the velociraptor is mad cool, though


From what I recall, the raptor is South African.*

* In the book and movie, the amber comes from South Africa. But my geologist father says this is, so far as anyone knows, impossible. There is amber in South Africa, but it's not old enough to be from the Jurassic. There is Jurassic amber in the world -- in Lebanon. But it was not discovered until 2010. At the time Crichton wrote 'Jurassic Park' and also by the time the film was made, no Jurassic amber samples bigger than millimetric granules were known to exist anywhere: the story was predicated on a scientific non-fact. Even if it were updated, though, it still has many scientific problems. No even remotely viable DNA from large animals has been found that has survived that long. Primitive microbes, yes. Which means that Crichton's 'Andromeda Strain' is a more likely story.
 
2012-07-31 11:23:06 AM

PlatypusPuke: 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.


They did tell you that, in every textbook, by labeling the problems as "exercises." That's what the word "exercise" means.
 
2012-07-31 12:05:53 PM

teylix: most math is quite useless from what ive found and im an engineer.


I am also an engineer and I say you're full of it.

Somehow I managed to miss matrices and tensors in college, and I really wish they had been covered.
 
2012-07-31 12:42:56 PM

umad: YouBWrong: Requiring high school students to learn algebra while cutting funding for arts, and foreign language studies implies that algebra is somehow universally useful. It is not.

But art is? LOL. Math is waaaaay more useful.


Both are universally useful, and no child--none--should grow to adulthood without at least basic exposure to both.

There was once a time when people of means took pride in being learned and proficient in as many different disciplines as possible. For one thing, exploring multiple disciplines helps one see the ways that they overlap. It helps them conceive novel solutions to difficult problems that a complete specialist would never think of developing. Now that far more people have this opportunity than before, we seek to neuter it.

FMC.
 
2012-07-31 12:44:20 PM

Xcott: PlatypusPuke: 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.

They did tell you that, in every textbook, by labeling the problems as "exercises." That's what the word "exercise" means.


Kids don't always make the connection at the time. They're kids.
 
2012-07-31 12:57:44 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.


---
Ballet is what made me get into physics and kinesiology. Body mechanics is math heavy. Even to get a good personal trainer certification, you have to get through all of the metabolic calculations (nothing but algebra). While you laugh at my dance major, keep in mind that right out of college I was making $50 an hour teaching ballet. I use my ballet classes as a medium to teach kids physics and to generate interest in science. I have made girls and boys who thought they were "dumb" turn into scientists or at the very least show interest in these subjects in school. I am currently back in school working towards getting into a doctor of physical therapy program. The psychotically strict work ethic and discipline that dance taught me has been useful in every aspect of my life.

The stagehand skills I learned as a dance major landed me a job in audio broadcast engineering. Now, I work in radio and get to learn how to fix transmitters. I also mix concerts and get to work with famous musicians.

On the side, I get stagehand gigs. While the pay is not astronomically high, getting $17-$24 an hour as a part time job sure as hell beats min wage at McDonald's. Loading in equipment for a rock legend beats flipping burgers or folding sweaters at the Gap any day.

I would not have had these opportunities if I had not majored in dance.

Algebra needs to stay in schools. This article made me feel like a math genius. Are people really failing out of school because they can't do algebra (says the fine arts/dance major)?
 
2012-07-31 01:09:01 PM

This text is now purple: DarwiOdrade: [www.anonymouspundit.com image 400x535]

The problem here is that a square root of a positive number is both the positive and the negative value. So woman = +/- problem.

She's exists as either the problem or the solution, and you don't know which until you check.

That's probably a more profound truth than the original post.

\Once diagrammed Romeo and Juliet in terms of Lorenz Strange Attractors.
\\They were always doomed.


I also had a problem with "Time and Money" being represented as "Time x Money". "And" normally translates to addition, which leaves the rest of the proof in error: "Time + Money".
 
2012-07-31 01:37:42 PM
More math... more more more math...
Talking to a friend's kid once, he said he really wanted to get into video games and doing computer graphics when he grows up, because "he likes games and graphics, and he sucks at math and science." I just kinda blinked at him. The look on his face when I told him "you need to know a lot of math to do that kinda stuff, a lot a lot of math" was priceless...
 
2012-07-31 02:44:37 PM
Before we throw math out, high schoolers need to show that they have a good understanding of math as it applies to real life. The truth of the matter is they don't. Most adults do not. I think statistics are a lot more important that algebra in this respect. Statistics are important in every-day decision making. Those who suck at stats make worse decisions.

/off to buy a lottery ticket
 
2012-07-31 03:10:32 PM

Kimothy: They're, not their. Damn.


D'oh, I made the opposite mistake:

Isildur: they'll need it to reach they're full potential

 
2012-07-31 04:44:11 PM

nameofperson: degenerate-afro: Sticky Hands: fark it.
the Chinese have won.

Not as long as Raptor Regan has a say in matters

[i.imgur.com image 850x478]

The communists will never succeed!

I love how it's supposed to be a "America, Fark Yeah!" pic, but he's wielding a german SMG and has a russian RPG on his back.
Communism strikes again!

/the velociraptor is mad cool, though


You must have missed the part were Ronnie ripped the arms off of the kraut, shot the commie with the german's weapon and stole his rocket launcher off the cold dead bodies before rasslin' down a raptor to be his mount.
 
2012-07-31 06:00:21 PM

GF named my left testicle thundercles: i think the best way to compete with the chinese is to produce more polysci majors. oh wait, i just realized that there is not a single thing that the modern consumer wants, that a polysci major can produce.


Other than excuses, you mean.
 
2012-07-31 07:29:45 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.


Proving theorems is not just there to help you understand calculus. Mathematical reasoning is useful for other things. Physics, or computer science. Not to mention, of course, other fields of math besides algebra or calc. To say that very few people use mathematical reasoning after graduating would be wrong. To say that "No one (and I mean NO ONE) cares" why is wrong. So, so wrong. Almost dirty.
 
2012-07-31 08:59:23 PM
The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.

What?

Both sculpture and ballet involve years of practice.
 
2012-07-31 09:03:06 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!


More to the point...

Hamburger meat is $2.99 a pound. I have $10. How much can I buy? Three pounds? Three and a half pounds?

2.99x
Step 1: Realize the arithmetic gets easier if you round 2.99 to 3.00, without getting you into trouble from overspending, so 3x
Step 2: Divide both sides by 3. x
 
2012-07-31 09:23:49 PM
Not only did you just do algebra but also error analysis to justify easier algebra.
 
2012-08-01 02:03:59 AM

Yamaneko2: The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.

What?

Both sculpture and ballet involve years of practice.



It's almost as if most truly rewarding endeavors in life require some some sort of genuine effort. This is deeply disturbing and must be fixed.

/luckily, snark will always be trivially easy, so long as bafflingly short-sighted editorials continue to offer themselves as convenient targets.
 
2012-08-01 10:46:13 AM

Lord Dimwit: 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.)


If this was in Austin, then I believe I see the problem: It's Texas. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dishing broadly -- I lived there myself, in Nacogdoches. But the problem is that even the most enlightened parts of Texas are still in Texas, and you can expect the worst to rear its ugly head now and then. I feel for those who suffer for being gay or whatever in the South, but I can't help wondering if they expect it to be different or better in their lifetimes; it might be, but it seems a lot to bet on. Come to the North Side. We have cookies. We've also got our share of ignorant bigots, and not even a whole lot fewer; but we're prudent enough not to let them run things like school boards.
 
2012-08-01 10:53:31 AM

buckler: umad: buckler: umad: Because People in power are Stupid: buckler: I find those to be creative (and accurate, in a sense) answers to math questions that might be given by liberal arts majors. I wonder if there are similar answers to English problems submitted by math majors.

There is no right answer because most of those classes are graded subjectively. Math is graded objectively. Which is what most people who hate math are actually hating. The lack of political sway that their "feel good" best intentions can muster -don't matter when solving a math problem.

Which is exactly why this article was written.

My friend, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Not really. For me, it isn't about "feeling good" about an answer, it's about the difficulties in comparing one way of structuring things vs. another. Please don't drag that "everyone's a winner" crap into this. It doesn't apply.

Where the hell did you get "everyone's a winner" from either post? You can't talk your way out of a wrong answer in math. That pisses people off when they get away with it everywhere else.

From your agreement with the post that you were responding to. Look, I know that math is an objective field. I understand that. I was expressing my amusement with the fact that, when approached from another perspective, the answers to those problems are all correct. Like I said, it's a clash of disciplines that gives sometimes surprising results. When you use words to express a problem, it puts it into the purview of language, which may come up with interesting responses to what would otherwise be a purely mathematical problem. If you wrote an equation on a board, putting X's in certain spaces, and asking for students to solve for X, English would have no way to touch it. By using words, it falls squarely into the domain of English as much as it does math, so I find the creative answers to be amusing. That's all.


Agree. I love language, which is probably evident, but I also love math. So I can't help but be amused at this:

rockx.us
 
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