Friday, April 30, 2010

How Much Math?

A quote in Economist, that led to the following 'inconclusive' discussion.

'Mandating more math and science in high schools when most of us never use trigonometry or calculus in our working lives takes away time from learning skills that are crucial in an innovative economy: how to listen and persuade, think independently and work collaboratively, for instance.' (link)

X: This is a wrong argument. instead of making us learn how to make use of these things in daily life, you are taking it out altogether. You want to make an illiterate out of even a person who is reading this. Develope the other skills independently but their importance you can never deny

I: ‘more of’ math and science when most of us ‘never use trigonometry or calculus in working lives’.

X: then tell people how to use them! not take them out of course!

I: you sound as if ‘math’ is being taken out… No

X: That’s what I am saying. whatever you have read, tell me about its applicability!

I: GRE test :p

X:We will stand nowhere if these are taken out of course. That is why it is wrong. Label your illiteracy as 'not needed' and finish everything.

I: Are you an illiterate you don’t know logarithms?

X: Of course I am cuz I don’t know how to use it.

I: No you are not because the maths you know covers most of the essentials of your life! You do not require to know logarithms! Its not needed! Its use is very specialized

X: But that doesn’t mean that they should not be taught to me. How am I suppose to know at school stage whether if it will be of some use in profession that I choose later?

I: You ‘should’ get to learn it where in case you need it in future!

Suppose now you switch a job and the new one requires that you know logarithms… although you have read them in school, you will still require to re-learn it. So whats the use learning it in school?

X: Now at this stage. What if I wanted to study the same field right after my school? No body would have given me admission in any school had I not learnt all that maths. And if I wanted to do BCS or go to any foreign school they would never give me admission anywhere without me having to know all this.

I: If you had required to learn logarithm then you would have been taught logarithms!

X: That’s why I was taught logarithms! :p

I: Logarithms should be removed from curriculum cuz they are not needed!
There is an understanding that a base level math (call it GRE level) should exist. More of it is not needed!

X: It is provided you can teach the use. Otherwise even this is of no use! :p


So how much Math should there be?

1 comment:

Aqua said...

Kudos! Love the quote and discussion. I teach Math (maths is no word) to O' Levels and fully agree with the argument. Most of the concepts taught are not applicable to real life situations yet the two ideas are independent. The other skill 'how to listen and persuade, think independently and work collaboratively, for instance' can be learnt even while learning calculus. Should have been better phrased. Maybe if the economist had said that these learning skills should be inculcated as a learning objective in the Math and Science Curriculum at High School forcing the teachers to incorporate them through their teaching strategies, I would find it more plausible.
I hope my GRE SCORE is reflected here. ;)