• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    One and one and one make five

    Frequent commenter John has had his own blog for a few months–it’s very good stuff.

    There have been a lot of posts about math education floating around lately. His two (here and here) are great additions to the pool. Something that he says that more people need to understand (and that is pertinent to comparisons of American and Japanese educational systems):

    So being Americans, and enamored of the idea that everyone can become a genius, we came out with systems that emphasized creativity over memorization, forgetting that in order to be creative you need at least a few facts in your head, otherwise you live in a world of make-believe.

    Somehow, the conviction that your progress in life needn’t be limited by the circumstances you were born into has changed into the belief that you can bluff your way through anything. (That actually doesn’t work much better in literary study than it does in math, BTW, as anyone who’s lost hours of life to an assigned “critical theory” reading of zero meaning can attest. It’s just less noticeable because there’s at least some fudge room in interpretation and criticism. And misinterpreting a poem doesn’t make bridges fall down.)

    2 Responses to “One and one and one make five”

    1. John says:

      Thanks for the link.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Any time, buddy.

      Re. Ilyka’s post that you talked about along the way, it always astounds me how ready people are to believe truly outrageous figures just because they were printed somewhere. Christina Hoff Sommers started off Who Stole Feminism? by tracing the canard that the March of Dimes had data to show that battering caused more birth defects than all other factors combined. After going through all the whisper-down-the-alley ways the MoD’s spokeswoman’s original statement had been distorted, she asked the most interesting question: Why was everyone so credulous? Not every verified statistic falls within the range common sense would suggest–the 100000 figure for deaths in Iraq isn’t outside the realm of possibility–but most of the operations of the world aren’t that loopy, and you’d think people would do more digging than they do.

    Leave a Reply