Friday, July 26, 2013

Education as just indoctrination - including Math!

Comment in response to article in Truthout:


What Passes for Education In America Is Often Just Indoctrination

http://www.alternet.org/education/educating-idiots



The photo on the link to this article is of someone, perhaps a teacher, standing in front of a blackboard full of "heavy math". Is that an image of good education? Or of education as just indoctrination?
Actually, math at its root is the poster child, the hard kernel, of an education that makes no sense! Which is what my 9th grade students kept telling me: "Mister, this doesn't make any sense!"
Math, in our mixed-population public schools like the ones where I taught, is the ultimate separator of the winners - the kids that have been bullied and conned into swallowing anything to preserve or advance their future income and socioeconomic status - from the losers.
As Calvin put it to Hobbs in 1991:
"You know, I don't think math is a science. I think it's a religion."
"A religion"?
"Yeah. All these equations are like miracles. You take two numbers and when you add them, they magically become one NEW number! No one can say how it happens. You either believe it or you don't. This whole book is full of things that have to be accepted on faith! It's a religion!"
"And in the public schools no less. Call a lawyer."
"As a math atheist, I should be excused from this."
Often the most disruptive "losers" in my classes were the smart angry working-class kids who were tired of all the BS, who demanded that I show them how what I was teaching them make sense. I tried, but I couldn't.  At the time I had nothing else to offer them, and I was left feeling like a failure, like I had failed them. But I owe them all a debt of gratitude. They put me on the path of searching for a math that makes sense, and finally of helping invent one, CIMM, a math as it turns out that also helps develop critical thinking skills.

But so far, despite a few promising starts - fabulous results for failing students and hapless teachers as a matter of fact - it's a math that has been unable to survive in our schools.
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