6 Comments

  1. Karl Schaffer
    July 21, 2014 @ 4:34 am

    I often feel that math education is more like a supertanker which takes enormous energy to turn around, and tired of trying to turn it, I prefer jumping off and sailing away in a better direction in a smaller (less leaky) boat.

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  2. Scott Kim
    July 21, 2014 @ 5:37 am

    Nice one. I’m trying to get everyone to jump ship along with me by making it clear that we have a clear better destination, and better, more powerful, smaller boats. And that we can build these new boats even while we are on the supertanker.

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  3. momo
    July 25, 2014 @ 6:16 am

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  4. momo
    July 25, 2014 @ 6:17 am

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  5. Pete Neuwirth
    October 3, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

    1. Your comment about reading about math before doing hit one of my hot buttons. I have always found math to be one of the most beautiful and amazing of human creations and yet throughout school it almost seems like the system treats it as some kind of “tool” that one needs to be trained to use. And beyond that they don’t’ even show you any real use for the tool (also one of your important points). So you spend years learning this skill that is never put in context and whose beauty and history is never appreciated. Eventually almost all of us reach a point where the concepts are too hard and we quit, leaving us with feelings of failure and wasted effort. For me, the point of failure came after second year calculus and when I contemplated a course in partial differential equations I became completely intimidated (by the subject, the professor and the students). I just cried “uncle” and moved on to linguistics. Fortunately my father was a mathematician (a topologist who spent his career as a cryptologist) and as a result I ended up with enough math culture and history in my background to retain my love and appreciation for the subject. Most are not so lucky. For me, rather than comparing the study of math to learning a language the metaphor that resonates with me is that of learning to play an instrument. Who would go through years of piano lessons without listening to great music and having some appreciation for the history and nature of the great works? And who would learn to play with no expectation of ever being able to make or perform the music at least in some informal capacity? I’ve always thought that colleges (and maybe high schools) should offer courses in “math appreciation” or “math history” in the same way that similar courses are given in art and music.
      2. You are also spot on in talking about asking questions and finding fun applications for the math. In our business (benefit consulting) we end up having to educate large groups of employees about subjects that seem boring and irrelevant (e.g. the pension they will be entitled to if they continue working for their company for another 20 years). One of the most important techniques that we have utilized is “gameification”. People love to play, and tapping into that wonderful human tendency is a powerful way get them to learn. Competitiveness and curiosity are there in all of us and finding a way to use that in a productive and educational way will lead not only to more effective learning, but a better world as well.
      3. I agree with you on process as well. My wife Tali has three graduate degrees (philosophy, art and psychology) and loved all of her schooling EXCEPT math. In our many conversations about it I found out that she actually loved the ideas in math (and to this day retains a deeper understanding of some of them like Normal vs Poisson distributions than I have) but time after time it was the problem solving process and “getting the right answer” that was emphasized and rewarded and turned her completely off. It really is a tragedy and makes one wonder about what the actual objective of these courses are. Maybe that is where the schools should start – ie. clarifying the objectives for each course (facility vs understanding vs aesthetic appreciation)
      4. Finally I too am discouraged by the choice of subjects chosen in a typical math curriculum. Beyond the obvious need to include more computer orientation, I think in our digital world we ought to be teaching more discrete (vs continuous) mathematics. There are some beautiful math subjects that are completely ignored in most schools. For example, Graduation and Difference Theory are two examples, but perhaps the most beautiful and important subject to consider would be Chaos Theory. Teaching about Chaos would also fit very nicely with your observation that we need to use more visual learning . I think there is very little in math more beautiful than a picture of a Mandlebrot or Julia Set. How much more excited would students be if they knew they could learn both how those images are created and to learn to create them themselves?

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  6. order a research paper
    January 15, 2016 @ 1:49 pm

    Technical education is so tough. In our country nobody is moving to technical education. Technical education has not being focused now a day. Government has taken many steps to remove the distance between educational systems.

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