1050: "Forgot Algebra"

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Invisiblemoose
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Invisiblemoose » Wed May 02, 2012 7:56 am UTC

I can't believe anybody would force me to learn how to cook -- what a complete waste of time and effort for something that you'd never actually use for 20 years of normal day-to-day living!

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madjo
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby madjo » Wed May 02, 2012 7:57 am UTC

Dear Randall, if I hadn't learned a foreign language, I'd've been unable to read this forum.
And if I hadn't learned to cook (which I didn't learn in school), I'd have starved.
Two bad examples.

Now, P.E. I could've done without.
:)

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Netreker0
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Netreker0 » Wed May 02, 2012 8:01 am UTC

The Moomin wrote:The difference is that people don't hammer in to your head how essential it is you learn the violin, bake a cake or learn how to ask for a train ticket in Polish. Throughout learning maths you are told repeatedly how important it is to your survival in day to day life.

You're confusing basic math and advanced math. In America, we hear that sort of talk about basic math, and it was arguably true. There was a time when counting and arithmetic were useful to most people on a daily basis (though arguably not "necessary for survival"), for things like estimating if you have enough gas or time to get somewhere, or making sure you don't get short changed. Thanks to people who learned enough advanced math for their respective fields, the current generation can dispense with even these basic skills. However, when it comes to advanced math, you hear a lot of "it opens doors for higher education/career paths in X field" but not much "you need it to survive."

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pbnjstowell
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby pbnjstowell » Wed May 02, 2012 8:08 am UTC

My husband and I teach a swing dance class. One thing we warn our students is that they're not going to remember any of the moves they learned this week... but they will remember the potential for movement. If they practice or come to class enough, they will start to memorize the moves and they won't have to think about them anymore. But in the mean time, their bodies will remember that it is possible to take a right turn or a left turn, without worrying about all the fiddly stuff like rhythm and foot patterns. (This also allows them to make up new moves without feeling like they are messing up!)

That's how I feel about a lot of the things I learned and forgot in high school or college. I can't remember the exact move, problem, or point in history, but I remember enough to apply a concept or learning method or look up details if I want to know more.

I feel like I'm storing most of my brain outside of my body, and the part in my head is just the index.


@madjo: I could have done without PE also. :D

RE cooking: Not everyone knows how, and if you are comfortably rich enough (because you learned your maths? because you inherited a bazillion dollars?), you could probably eat out all the time, or pay someone else to make your meals... or do your taxes.
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Netreker0
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Netreker0 » Wed May 02, 2012 8:17 am UTC

Let me say first that I admire your numerous skills, though I am saddened that logic/phorensics might not be among them.

babble wrote: Despite that I admire people who are good at maths, even though I literally can't (not won't) understand much more than very basic stuff. I see the value of it, even. I understand that skills learnt in school are used in life, even though we might forget that from time to time.


And so yeah, I'm a little bit tired of being characterised as some kind of anti-maths snob who disparages it because she doesn't understand it.


The comic isn't characterizing you as anything, nor are any of the people I have seen post so far, for reasons clear in the first quote: you respect people who are good at math, you respect its usefulness, and (unless you are being incredibly disingenuous in your post) you most likely don't go around complaining about how useless math is, which is the specific behavior that is being criticized. I would never characterize someone with dyscalculia as an anti-math snob any more than I would say someone with dyslexia just hates literature. I think that your feelings of persecution stem more from your own insecurities or other internal factors than from the actual statements, actions, or attitudes of Randall or other math-loving people.

I'm horrible at singing, but I've never felt that people were talking about me when they disparate "those who can't appreciate music."

HugoSchmidt
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 02, 2012 8:18 am UTC

Have to agree about this. It's my lifelong regret that I don't know more maths than I do, and I keep trying - poorly - to catch up.

skpkzk2
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby skpkzk2 » Wed May 02, 2012 8:25 am UTC

I spent years and years being told how learning Latin would improve my English vocabulary. However, I used my english vocabulary to figure out the latin vocabulary. I'm not going to argue that learning the language was a bad idea, it probably improved my critical thinking skills and definitely gave me a better understanding of languages in general, but I absolutely despise that my teachers justified it the way they did.

As for math, I'm an engineer and I can safely say that, while I use higher math almost non-stop, its the arithmetic that is pointless. I spent all of 3rd and 4th grades learning multiplication tables and long division, neither of which I have found to be useful what-so-ever. I feel like if elementary schools taught mathematical logic rather than drilling 6 X 7 = 42 into kids heads then a lot more people would enjoy math.

ribbonsofnight
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby ribbonsofnight » Wed May 02, 2012 8:30 am UTC

When you introduce yourself as a maths teacher you find out how much glee people have in telling you that they hated maths in school.
This is why I find this comic funny because presumably Science Teachers and French teachers and History teachers don't get that reaction a third of the time.

Also I love the Title/Alt text.

JimsMaher
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby JimsMaher » Wed May 02, 2012 8:40 am UTC

Options; take them when they're provided, and make them when they're not.
Generally speaking, want is easily confused for need ... especially when your credit score is adrift in a Sea of Wants.
All you really need to survive is air, food, and water.
And children to outlive you, if you expand the definition of survival to include your genes.
And living as long as possible, if you expand the definition again to include all of your genes.

Anyway, math is fun. I'm working on a formal proof for a simple and intuitive novel method I created for comparing the equivalence of any two graphs.
Will it make me moneys? I doubt it, but it has proven beneficial for Data Structures and Discrete Maths problems ... which helps to give me a slightly higher GPA, which could land me a better job, which should pay more. Will this particular problem make the difference in the job hunt? I don't see how it could hurt. Unless you argue that my time, spent alone toiling on maths, could instead have been spent wooing a mate for the sex happening, which must be weighed against the venture gained in attempting to advance mathematical methodology. Likewise, why are you wasting time reading this post?

When I first read the title, I thought it said "Forget Algebra" ... I kept reading.

Istaro
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Istaro » Wed May 02, 2012 8:43 am UTC

The only things you HAVE to know are how to make enough of a living to stay alive and how to get your taxes done.


If you're only barely making enough to stay alive, you certainly don't have to file taxes (although doing so would likely get you free money so you'd be silly not to). At least in the U.S.

Antior
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Antior » Wed May 02, 2012 8:50 am UTC

I've been saying for years that learning how to fill in tax forms properly should be a part of education. It would have to focus on the meaning of legal gobbledygook. There are computer tools available to do any calculations after you filled in the legal gobbledygook, so there's not much headmath involved.

mric
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby mric » Wed May 02, 2012 8:53 am UTC

ribbonsofnight wrote:When you introduce yourself as a maths teacher you find out how much glee people have in telling you that they hated maths in school.
This is why I find this comic funny because presumably Science Teachers and French teachers and History teachers don't get that reaction a third of the time.

Also I love the Title/Alt text.

I believe that PE/sports teachers get that reaction all the time, though I don't seem to move in the same social circles as PE teachers so I can't tell for certain. It is odd that I don't know any, given that among my friends, family and acquaintances I count dozens of teachers.

However, I don't think PE teachers get the same comment as in the comic - they are just as likely to get "Hey, Mr Thomson, you may have succeeded in making me hate playing football, hockey and athletics as a teenager, but since then I have found that sports are actually fun."

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lynx
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby lynx » Wed May 02, 2012 8:57 am UTC

Excellent comic today, I showed it round lots of friends because it's so true! And the alt text is brilliant as well!

herbys
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby herbys » Wed May 02, 2012 9:01 am UTC

If you haven't solved for X at any point in the last few years, you most likely achieved sub-optimal solutions to almost every single problem you faced. I hope you are proud of your sub-optimal life.

jozwa
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby jozwa » Wed May 02, 2012 9:01 am UTC

Locoluis wrote:Also, I disagree with the Alt text. Not all of Education should be just to allow people to be able to earn a living and pay their taxes.

Isn't the point exactly the opposite? You can complain about being taught math, but there are actually plenty of things you don't need just to stay alive.

tjunction
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby tjunction » Wed May 02, 2012 9:06 am UTC

skpkzk2 wrote:As for math, I'm an engineer and I can safely say that, while I use higher math almost non-stop, its the arithmetic that is pointless. I spent all of 3rd and 4th grades learning multiplication tables and long division, neither of which I have found to be useful what-so-ever. I feel like if elementary schools taught mathematical logic rather than drilling 6 X 7 = 42 into kids heads then a lot more people would enjoy math.


Are you kidding?
Have you never done mental arithmetic in a supermarket or to calculate a tip?


By the way, this is algebra:

A pack containing 12 bottles of beer costs £10
Because there is a special offer you can get 2 packs of 4 bottles (normally £4.99 each pack) for £7
Which is cheaper per bottle?

mric
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby mric » Wed May 02, 2012 9:06 am UTC

skpkzk2 wrote:I spent years and years being told how learning Latin would improve my English vocabulary. However, I used my english vocabulary to figure out the latin vocabulary. I'm not going to argue that learning the language was a bad idea, it probably improved my critical thinking skills and definitely gave me a better understanding of languages in general, but I absolutely despise that my teachers justified it the way they did.

Yep. I would have learnt as much about the romantic roots of English from learning Spanish or Italian, and I did learn as much about grammar from German and French. After six years of Latin I was still insufficiently skilled in it to address the serious literature in the language (which would be a real benefit of proficiency), but I knew enough to be able to describe how to build a defensive ditch or instruct a servant to take the dog to the market; unfortunately, I am yet to spend any time in a Latin-speaking household, so those skills are not getting much practise.

Still, as I am sure we would all agree, non scholae, sed vitae discimus.

HungryHobo
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 9:13 am UTC

Noslo wrote:"Why do they make us learn math? It's not like I'll ever use it."
"Yeah, it's not like math teaches you how to work out complex problems logically."
This conversation happens quite often.


math, as it's actually taught in schools really doesn't.
But then the state of math education is pretty terrible across the board while teachers seem intent on making their students hate it.

http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

I liked math but only because I started learning it well away from any school.

the thought process in education seems to be "ok, we've got this interesting subject.... how can we suck all the life out of it and condition young people to hate it"

I recently saw a proposed second level curriculum for computer science/programming and the only conclusion I can draw from it is that teachers nowdays are the least competent members of society without a clue about anything.
Either that or it was their intention to screw it up.(hint, where any self respecting college course will have intro to programming at the start this pile of crap didn't touch it till more than half way through, long after they've all lost any context and lost interest)

Why have teachers become some incompetent at teaching?I mean across the board, incompetent.
and by "become" I mean since from long before my birth.

They even manage to waste kids time with things which they have absolutely no use for, on the ornidanry level maths course here (the minimum math everyone has to do to get into college) they include imaginary numbers. I mean really. few people use algebra, nobody doing ordinary level math is going to be using imaginary numbers for anything in normal life. It's not just useless, it's spectacularly useless, it's so useless to normal people that you have to work hard to think of anything less useful to them.

And yes there is the same argument related into music, speaking a foreign language, etc and it's perfectly justified.

thetrivialstuff wrote:Mortgage calculations are probably the biggest one. I realize this doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it could make tens, possibly even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of difference to your life over a period of many, many years. If you forgot calculus and natural logs, you are going to get screwed on your mortgage and you won't even understand how.


Anyone with sense, no matter how good at math, hires a professional when there's so much money at stake in the same way that anyone with sense gets a lawyer for defending themselves in court because there's more than just math involved. Much like being your own lawyer some fools do it anyway and some even come out of top but it's not the smart thing to do.

thetrivialstuff wrote:If you get a decent gut feel for trig, it's also a safety boon: You can guess at the most effective way to get out of a dangerous situation in traffic, for instance.


As mentioned earlier you do maths to drive about the same as you do chemistry to stay alive.
a footballers brain may be calculating angles but he'd be just as good at that if he never once in his life heard that trig existed.

I like math, I use math in my job and yet I'm not so arrogant as to believe that everyone should be forced to learn about imaginary numbers and differentiation.
Trying to force everyone to love what I love serves no purpose other than to feed my ego.

If your students take glee in telling you how useless your subject was then the only thing it implies is that you're a terrible teacher, not that they're terrible students, that you managed to make them hate it so much that they actually take pleasure in not using it and not knowing it.

Math doesn't suck but most math teachers suck.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Invertin
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Invertin » Wed May 02, 2012 9:15 am UTC

Hey, Math Teachers don't always get to choose what they teach. Maybe it's different in America but my teachers have openly acknowledged several times that they are teaching us what will get us grades so that we can actually get good jobs rather than what's important to know in general or interesting because there simply isn't enough time for both.

johnny_7713 wrote:
Invertin wrote:I acknowledge the fact that math is an incredibly useful subject, but I also know that I haven't used any in my day to day life.

Then again I might have dyscalculia so there you go.

The same sort of argument could be applied in regards to history, since I don't really plan on being a historian, but analyzing different views on an event and investigating the authors to ensure that I have the correct information? That's like, the entire internet.


You've never worked out how long you will have to save up to be able to buy that new car/computer/holiday/other expensive thing? You've never worked out how much money you will have left over after tax? You've never worked out how much tax you will have to pay? You've never worked out how much the monthly interest payment on a loan or mortgage is? You've worked out how much extra that 3% wage raise will give you at the end of the month?

Moving on to more basic arithmetic rather than math: You've never added up what your shopping will total before you've reached the check-out? You've never split a restaurant bill? You've never converted a stated monthly wage into an annual wage or vice versa?
The list goes on.
Dyscalculia might make all that a lot harder, but I can't imagine you've never done at least some of those things, or at least wanted to do them.


Actually, no. Wanted to, yeah, but had to? No. I'm not saying that Math wouldn't be useful at all to me, just that I personally haven't used it.

To be fair, I'm not really an adult yet. Close, but I still rely on my parents and school so maybe I'll suddenly find that I use it a lot more when I'm actually fending for myself.

I will say that I'm pretty good at probability and chance and stuff. Maybe not at the actual mathematics of it but I can look at a percentage or fraction or ratio and go 'yeah that's probably worth the risk'... Although I mostly use that for videogames to be honest.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 9:20 am UTC

Invertin wrote:Hey, Math Teachers don't always get to choose what they teach.



not every individual does but it's mostly math teachers who come up with the curriculums and write the books.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

OjnoTheRed
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby OjnoTheRed » Wed May 02, 2012 9:24 am UTC

First post here! I've been following xkcd for a couple of years and loving it. By way of a disclaimer, I'm training to be a teacher, including mathematics.

I just wanted to say this cartoon reminded me of an essay at http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf which I read recently, and I see HungryHobo has made the connection as well. It is long (about 25 pages) but I think should be on every teacher's reading list - maths teachers especially, but all teachers should read this. However, I disagree with HungryHobo's diatribe against teachers. The problem isn't individual teachers in the classroom - the problem is the curriculum that they are required to work to and the way the education system operates as a whole: governments are not interested in students who come out as critical thinkers, but in generating the factory fodder who are trained into compliance rather than educated. Hence the kind of curriculum HungryHobo has described (although, yes, I am not saying that every single teacher is fantastic).

I agree with other posters that the major point isn't people being bad at mathematics, but being wilfully and proudly ignorant. But this lead me to think - why would anyone have this attitude? I think the essay provides a clue: it is that what is taught isn't the beautiful abstract reasoning that attracts me to it, but the utterly boring and pointless notation and classifications (e.g. "improper fraction" in primary school - as the essay points out, where is this used except in primary school?).

Beautiful mathematics starts with wrestling with a problem that needs solving - the notation and symbols that are needed follow from the problems.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby jgh » Wed May 02, 2012 9:30 am UTC

Can't do maths? I've got a wonderful deal for you, potatoes, 19p a pound, three pounds, for you, special offer, a quid. Ok, tell you what, 90p, and that's cutting me hand off.

Don't dare compain, you insisted you can't do maths.

Like those potatoes? I've got this wonderful mortgage offer just here...

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 9:39 am UTC

jgh wrote:Can't do maths? I've got a wonderful deal for you, potatoes, 19p a pound, three pounds, for you, special offer, a quid. Ok, tell you what, 90p, and that's cutting me hand off.

Don't dare compain, you insisted you can't do maths.

Like those potatoes? I've got this wonderful mortgage offer just here...


you know how math teachers used to say "you won't always have a calculator on you"

turns out they were painfully wrong.
http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/mybai ... ulator.jpg

either way there's a world of difference between basic arithmatic: addition, subtraction etc and the shit they make kids learn in second level.

" I've got a wonderful deal for you, potatoes, (7i+ 19)p a pound"
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

drazen
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby drazen » Wed May 02, 2012 9:46 am UTC

all those people in the Ayn Rand thread
who seem to perceive every other post as a personal attack, are related phenomena,
both involve people who had a math deficiency as kids.


Incorrect! I'm in that thread, and majored in math in undergrad (and for a while, computer science, although I dropped that in favor of having a life, because while I can write code, the professors were horrible at giving instruction that worked well for me). L

Although, I'm not sure I see many posters' attitudes as a "personal attack," but rather a potential threat, which is essentially a probability calculation.

As for people hating math, it's a combination of parents not training kids in the basics and schools constantly shifting the teaching methodology. You could say that literature is boring, too, if you weren't trained to read young or have a sparse vocabulary. Science might be boring if you were never taught curiosity and exploring, but rather to do what you're told. The list goes on and on.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Technical Ben » Wed May 02, 2012 9:57 am UTC

gormster wrote:I swear I don't know what careers don't inevitably involve algebra in some fashion. Algebra is like... I don't even know how you do maths that doesn't have algebra. If you have a problem that needs maths to solve it, algebra is basically inevitable. I guess entry-level jobs in industries like delivery or retail don't involve it, but man, did you stick to that job for twenty years?


Even retail right? Solve X when you have some pennies, a fiver and have to give change. :lol:
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Zamfir » Wed May 02, 2012 10:00 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:you know how math teachers used to say "you won't always have a calculator on you"


Does anyone know of studies about calculator proficiency? At least in my personal experience, there's a lot of relationship between being somewhat good at mental calculations, at calculations on paper, and at calculations using machines.

For one thing, there's simple checking. Everyone makes mistakes when running a calculator, and you need a feel for the correct outcome to catch those. That has a knock-on effect as well: you are more comfortable using a calculator, if you are confident that you will catch mistakes.

There's also the question of setting up the calculation, or even realizing before you start whether you have or have not enough information to get the desired answer.

And calculators are a hurdle. You only pull them out when you know that you need to do a calculation, and that the result will be interesting in some sense. But the importance is often that you need to recognize quickly that something "doesn't add up".Iif the restaurant bill looks suspiciously high, there's social barrier to visibly pulling out your calculator for a double-check. Odds are that you are wrong, especially if you're not that good with numbers in the first place. You need a "4 meals, 6 beers, 2 desserts, that's still nowhere near 180" check, before you start doing something mroe detailed.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 10:03 am UTC

It's called "I ordered pretty much the same thing before and it was half that" for most people.

and even at it's most advanced, checking a bill only takes half basic arithmetic and even then it only needs to be "well that's about 100 ish".
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby BAReFOOt » Wed May 02, 2012 10:05 am UTC

They teach math… in school??
Not that I know of…

I usually assume that those who are proud of their non-knowledge flip burgers for a living. Because I don’t think any technical job would even be possible without “solving for x”. Including the jobs of those who make their electronic gadgets & co.

By the way: I (re-)realized something very important:
On a chart, education is orthogonal to intelligence!
One can be well-educated, but a complete retard. E.g. after finishing school. On top of it, the education can be wrong too. Yet people still defend it like it’s self-observed.
Or very intelligent, but have no education. Which means, all knowledge is based on one’s own observations. Which of course is nice, since the only left middle man are the own senses. But would take forever to acquire all the “knowledge” usually obtained through education.
If you have both, you’re usually called “wise”. But that still doesn’t mean much, if your education was bad. (As in: A lot, but bad.)
Maybe we can call those who are intelligent, realized that their most-relied-upon education can be wrong, and found out for themselves, “enlightened”. (If only that word didn’t have such a smell of pseudo-scientific superstition and mental illness…)

Anyway, I can only recommend finding out for yourself. It’s mind-boggling how wrong we are about our most basic assumptions. Like how stupid it is to first use tensids, and then cream. Or to wear clothing and especially shoes in those cases where there is absolutely no need for them. Or how being rich and e.g. a medical doctor doesn’t mean any more success with women at all, because you fall into the provider role, and that means goodbye sexy time. Etc, etc, etc…

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby kizolk » Wed May 02, 2012 10:09 am UTC

drazen wrote:Science might be boring if you were never taught curiosity and exploring, but rather to do what you're told. The list goes on and on.


I think it's worth than that. Curiosity shouldn't be taught, because humans are curious by default. I think bad teachers/education systems are actually breaking something, rather than failing to give birth to it. They sure broke it for me, science seemed to be the exact opposite of fun. But I kinda changed my mind; I feel like I've learned more about maths (and I definitely learned more about physics) since I've stopped studying it at school.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby martin878 » Wed May 02, 2012 10:17 am UTC

AFAIK in the UK 'filing taxes' is something that a small proportion of the population have to do. It just comes out automatically. Is the process more manual in US? So manual that you're taught how to do it at school :?:

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby BlitzGirl » Wed May 02, 2012 10:18 am UTC

skpkzk2 wrote:As for math, I'm an engineer and I can safely say that, while I use higher math almost non-stop, its the arithmetic that is pointless. I spent all of 3rd and 4th grades learning multiplication tables and long division, neither of which I have found to be useful what-so-ever. I feel like if elementary schools taught mathematical logic rather than drilling 6 X 7 = 42 into kids heads then a lot more people would enjoy math.

To me, learning arithmetic now is like learning to write legibly: a basic skill that you need to get by, but less and less crucial with the prevalence of technology. Many people these days seem to get along okay without writing well, or without being able to do quick mental math in their heads. Because calculators are everywhere (in cell phone society), it is reasonable to use them as a crutch.

I'm not sure that teaching more theory is going to get students to better enjoy math. By the time I reached 3rd and 4th grades, we did the multiplication tables, sure, but there was an extensive effort to teach mathematical logic as well - a rather radical change in the curriculum seemed to happen just as I was exiting elementary school (early 2000s). If anything, students complained more about this style of teaching than they did about the rote learning, because it required a greater degree of thoughtfulness. I'm not saying that this shift wasn't ultimately more useful to these students in the long run, but anecdotally it didn't make them enjoy math any more.
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Zamfir
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby Zamfir » Wed May 02, 2012 10:30 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:It's called "I ordered pretty much the same thing before and it was half that" for most people.

and even at it's most advanced, checking a bill only takes half basic arithmetic and even then it only needs to be "well that's about 100 ish".

How does this relate to calculators? My point was that it is very tricky to rely on calculators as replacement for basic arithmetic, because for various reasons the people who are most comfortable with calculators tend to be the people who are fairly good at calculations without them.
OjnoTheRed wrote:I just wanted to say this cartoon reminded me of an essay at http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

Hm, I remeber reading that some time ago. It has some good criticisms, but I thought the constructive parts were weak. His model of teaching seems to be to have former academic mathematicians teach highly gifted students, by freely letting them explore the beauty of maths. I think there's an example in there of how proofs should be taught, and the example is "one of my students came up with this elegant proof all by themselves".

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 10:34 am UTC

BlitzGirl wrote: like learning to write legibly: a basic skill that you need to get by


I had the most vile bitch of a teacher who was obsessed with this. I developed a stutter the year I had that witch of a teacher. My writing got worse the more I stressed over it.

she can burn in fucking hell, it's been 2 years since I've had any need whatsoever to pick up a pen.

But despite the realities of modern life: ie that this is no longer an important skill( anything you need to write by hand which anyone else absolutely has to be able to read is most likely to be typed and if you must use a pen it's better written in block than cursive) you can be sure there's thousands of teachers making the lives of kids in their classes that little bit more unpleasant for the sake of it for no good reason other than tradition.

PS: fucking fountain pens, nobody but pretentious showoffs use them yet they requried us to use them rather than infinitly superior ball point pens.

Actual life skill: fast, accurate typing
What they taught:fountain pen use

Do teachers live in some sort of pre WW1 time warp where nothing newer is worth attention?
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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby AvatarIII » Wed May 02, 2012 10:43 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
thetrivialstuff wrote:Mortgage calculations are probably the biggest one. I realize this doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it could make tens, possibly even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of difference to your life over a period of many, many years. If you forgot calculus and natural logs, you are going to get screwed on your mortgage and you won't even understand how.


Anyone with sense, no matter how good at math, hires a professional when there's so much money at stake in the same way that anyone with sense gets a lawyer for defending themselves in court because there's more than just math involved. Much like being your own lawyer some fools do it anyway and some even come out of top but it's not the smart thing to do.


the thing with this is, I think people are more than happy to risk losing out on money through their own mistake than having to definitely pay out money to make sure they avoid losing that money, unless access to a professional is part of the mortgage deal, is someone going to want to spend out a lump sum now to avoid maybe losing out on money spread over 20 years? even if there's quite a big discrepancy in how much money is spent vs how much could be lost, it's actual value vs perceived value, and a lot of people generally go for perceived value, which is the same reason people use credit cards or do buy now pay later or lease-to-buy deals, there are entire business, even entire economies, built on the fact people will more often than not go for perceived value over actual value.

anyway, my point is maybe Maths should be taught from a more practical foundation, teach people the importance of the maths and how it related to real life stuff.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 10:48 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:the thing with this is, I think people are more than happy to risk losing out on money through their own mistake than having to definitely pay out money to make sure they avoid losing that money, unless access to a professional is part of the mortgage deal, is someone going to want to spend out a lump sum now to avoid maybe losing out on money spread over 20 years? even if there's quite a big discrepancy in how much money is spent vs how much could be lost, it's actual value vs perceived value, and a lot of people generally go for perceived value, which is the same reason people use credit cards or do buy now pay later or lease-to-buy deals, there are entire business, even entire economies, built on the fact people will more often than not go for perceived value over actual value.



that isn't a matter of math, people will still do this even if they're masters of compound interest.

it isn't math that needs to be taught here, it's a combination of common sense, economics, mistrust and rational thinking. none of which are very tightly linked to math except in using it as one of many tools.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby MichaelRpdx » Wed May 02, 2012 11:06 am UTC

Yeah?

Well I've never had to climb a rope or lie on my back pushing a weighted metal bar up since school either.
In your face gym teacher!

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby *Kat* » Wed May 02, 2012 11:10 am UTC

For once I find myself in complete disagreement with Randall. I was not required to learn how to play an instrument before graduating. I was not required to learn how to cook. I was required to learn a foreign language but at least that has proven useful from time to time. I can't say that about the Algebra, Calculus, Trig courses that I was required to take in order to earn a History degree.

I don't take pride in having forgotten almost everything that I learned in math. I'm annoyed that I was required to learn it in the first place! It was a huge source of stress; greatly contributed to a burnout that I suffered in my junior year of college; and has been absolutely and utterly useless to me.

I don't lack problem solving skills or the ability to think logically. Nor am I stupid. I've taught myself two programming languages and am a whiz at databases. My brain simply isn't wired for higher mathematics. Its like expecting a tone deaf person to sing. I simply can't do it.

Being required to take higher math in school was bad for me all around. It made me frustrated with learning, frustrated with myself, and angry at the world in general. That may sound like an exaggeration or over reaction but it really isn't. I *hated* math because I was so horrible at it.

Math is the reason why I did not pursue a degree in computer science. I have a life long love of computers but was told that I had to be good at math in order to be good in computer science. So I studied history instead. Through luck and chance though I was presented with the opportunity to learn a database language and I took to it like a duck to water. One thing led to another and I got a similar chance to learn how to write JSP. Which I also did...and LOVED. So far I have been good at every computer related activity that has come my way. But to even try for a degree in computer science would be worthless and stupid because, again, I can't do higher math worth a damn.

I had to take a trig course in college the first time around. I put in twenty hours a week studying for that puppy. I got a tutor, books, watched videos... I did ALL the problems in the chapters covered. Evens and Odds.

I made a 'C' in the course.

It was a gift.

Fuck Algebra.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby nbauers » Wed May 02, 2012 11:25 am UTC

A Google Images or Videos search for Mandelbulb makes quite a good counter argument. Maths leads to complexity and beauty.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby HungryHobo » Wed May 02, 2012 11:30 am UTC

nbauers wrote:A Google Images or Videos search for Mandelbulb makes quite a good counter argument. Maths leads to complexity and beauty.


which unfortunatly has absolutely nothing to do with what's taught as math in second level schools.

that "math" has no beauty, that math has no real complexitry. it's just join the dots drudgery.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

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Re: 1050: "Forgot Algebra"

Postby tlmorgen » Wed May 02, 2012 11:35 am UTC

One thing I felt hasn't been made clear so far is the difference between "arithmetic" and "algebra".

Elementary algebra, what it seems the character is referring to, should not be confused with arithmetic. Just because the two share the same operations on numbers does not make their spirit the same.

Finding a bargain while shopping does not require symbolic math, such as algebra; arithmetic will suffice. On the other hand, proving that the growth in price of your favorite chips is exponential versus linear would benefit greatly from some algebra.

I have to say that, for myself, it seems to be asking quite a lot for a person to be required to learn "the relationship between numbers" and the formulation of equations if they exist in a stratified workforce such as that of many capitalistic states. At the same time, bourgeoisie chasing has also led to the ruin of the vocational system in many such states. In the end, people simply don't seem to be receiving the education that they need, nor the one that they want.


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