Math(s) Education


As I'm certain plenty of people do, when I take up a new subject, I tend to seek out as much information on it as possible. It's a bit obsessive, I understand, but at this point in my life, I'm not going to fight it. That said, along with books, classes, journals, and more, I've spent more than a little time scrounging around the web for decent math-centric weblogs. Like all subjects, the range of quality differs dramatically. (And, like the AEA says about T&B, there are a number that are almost on mathematics.) In my travels, I ran across the enjoyable site Tall, Dark, and Mysterious. (Bravo on using the serial comma, by the way.)

I note it here as an ongoing evidence to support my argument that there are good reasons not everyone should go to college. (And, more explicitly, see this from Kevin.)

Just one sample:

A supply/demand problem had a number (not zero) of students finding that the equilibrium occurred when widgets were sold for negative thirty bucks a pop. No one appeared to bat an eye over this one; they just stated their conclusion and moved onto the next problem. On a question about finding the dimensions of a structure with given area and given amount of fencing, a plurality of students faithfully parrotted the formula that perimeter=2*length+2*width, apparently not noticing (or caring) that the fencing of the figure in question (I provided a diagram) did not surround a rectangle. Nor did it surround a triangle, but many students seemed eager to show off their knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem.

My advice to her would be to simply teach the class she expects to teach and let those who sink, sink. But I can only begin to imagine the right terror parents and administration would become if half her classes started failing outright. Of course, there is the other side of the coin: my current math teacher is a former high-school instructor whose pedagogical process consists of reading from the book, then yelling "What? Why don't you get this?"

Most importantly, however, the main result from my current readings has been developing a preference for the plural "maths" over "math".


(Tried to post this a few days ago, but it didn't work.)

A friend of mine sold me on the serial comma when he told me of a book dedication he'd seen:

I'd like to thank my parents, God and L. Ron Hubbard.

MS -- Sorry that your comment got lost. I'll take a look through our filter to see what might have happened.

Re: the dedication...whoa. That's just...odd on a lot of levels. And is of particular fascination because I have an odd love/hate thing with Scientology. I've annoyed many a friend with my detailed knowledge of the oddities of this US-state-sponsored cult. It drives me bonkers like few things can, though I have no idea why (other than it's simply a bad thing in general).


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This page contains a single entry by published on July 21, 2005 5:12 PM.

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