liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
[personal profile] liv
Having encouraged everybody else to post short posts with links to other cool stuff, I should follow my own advice! Here's four very interesting and different responses to XKCD's Forgot Algebra comic:
All very much worth reading, including the comment discussions attached. There, how's that for a brief pointer rather than a long essay (which might never get posted)?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-04 08:17 pm (UTC)
ptc24: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ptc24
I wonder whether there's some validation going on, of the form "I struggled through this, resented it at the time, thought it would be useless to me... and I was right, dammit. Go me!"

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-06 07:14 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
whereas I'm sure all the maths resenters would say that what they're doing when they carry out those tasks isn't maths

I don't think they would. I think they would point out they don't do those things. Which in my experience most resenters don't, actually, do.

I think a lot of college-educated people, especially in STEM fields, greatly underestimate how math-free an existence it is possible to lead in our society. It's not a very lucrative existence, and it involves accepting occasional rip-offs and overdrafts, but there are a remarkable number of people whom that describes.

Part of the problem is that maths contains a higher proportion than most other subjects of exercises that are designed to help you get a grip on concepts, and the exercises themselves are just a means to an end, but if that never gets explained to you properly, they seem like completely pointless make-work.

Sure, but if those ends were ever reached, wouldn't they be self-evidently useful? If they were useful? I mean, I'm in favor of math and think it's keen and useful. But if one manages to get to adulthood with at least and average intelligence, yet see no personal utility in math, then whose fault is that?

One of the unfortunate facts I learned in school reform was that there are rather a huge number of primary school math teachers who never studied math or the teaching of math -- their specialization was in other topics -- and rather hate and fear math themselves. At one point in the 1980s, I heard the figure that 90% of math teachers in California hadn't had any specialist training in math instruction, and might not have beyond an elementary school level of math attainment themselves.

Have you ever read John Holt's How Children Fail? I really can't recommend it highly enough. It's about how children become estranged from their good mathematical sense by schooling, and the effect that has on them. (Also, Holt writes like an angel; he's one of my English-language heros.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-07 11:56 am (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I don't think they would. I think they would point out they don't do those things. Which in my experience most resenters don't, actually, do.


My experience of knitters is certainly that many will raise the cry of "ugh, math" if it is suggested they do ... well, any arithmetic at all. The sock I just finished knitting required (something like) take the number you just reached and subtract 10 mod 22; the pattern provided full hand-holding (is your number less than 10? if so add 22)... and also an apology for the maths.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-06 06:52 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Yes, and further: "The people making me suffer justified doing so under the rubric that it would serve me in later life. They were wrong, and so they had no right to do what they did to me."

I think a lot of people feel that, but they don't dare come out and say it for some complicated psychological reasons.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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