Go Darke

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it

Daily Journal

Math

I’m quite judgmental. Nowhere more so than when I’m queuing for coffee just before my morning commute. To be fair this is pre-caffeinated Joey so generally speaking my tolerance for other sentient beings is quite low. I use the term sentient quite loosely. (mostly in referencing myself)

This morning the guy in front of me was equivocating when his turn came to order. (there’s only one thing worse than this and that is people who suddenly realize that some action is required of them when they get to the front of the queue when going through airport security. Could they not have used the last twenty minutes to prep themselves?)

Fortunately the barista knows me, caught my exasperated eye-roll and tee’d up my order while she waited for Johnny-indecision to peruse the entire menu. He finally settled on a grande Rooibos and a pack of menthol cigarettes. How is this even a real life thing I angrily muse shouldering past him to the collections counter?

Post coffee I angry drive listening to the Freakeconomics podcast about Math (while I navigate the Fury Road). Not the Andrew Yang counter cap to the ‘make America great again’ cult of orange. But more about Math generally and how it gets taught to us.

This is something I can empathize with… because… I suck at math. I mean really suck. The seventh sub basement layer of suck-a-tude (if you can even plot a point on a graph that goes this low).

Having thought about my complete ineptitude and failure at this particular subject I have concluded that a vicious intersection of stupidity (my own) and a really awful math teacher are to blame for my poor grasp on the essence of the universe.

I don’t however suck at Data. Or rather being able to interpret Data, visually. I consider myself, for example above average in the use of Excel. There is a likely a visual component here that helps my brain along.

Having done a survey of Freakeconomics listeners, only 2% of respondents said they use highschool mathematics (I think this was specifically referring to Algebra) on a daily basis, and 70% said they NEVER use high school math in their daily lives… ever. As a counter point 70% said they do some form of data interpretation every day. I’m sure a broader survey would yield ever lower results for the use of math in everyday life.

So why do we push Trigonometry, Algebra and Geometry so hard at school, when, lets be honest, only a small number of kids have the aptitude for this sort of reasoning and even then only a tiny number of people will benefit from this form of education? Even university lecturers (apparently) despair with high school mathematics as not laying a great foundation for higher order math anyway and would much prefer students have a good grounding in the core concepts instead of having to be (almost) retrained and retooled when they get to university.

I tend to gripe on about schooling a lot these days. Maybe because it feels like we haven’t really progressed very far along in education and that now my daughters may have to endure the same antiquated routine I suffered through. At least they have i-Phones and Playstations right?

But crappier tv. 80’s tv was the best! MacGyver ftw.

3 Comments

  1. crustytuna

    October 22, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    MacGyver taught me infinitely more than high school math ever did! I enjoy that you angry drive while listening to podcasts about math. Is it like a window into your soul?

    1. Jo

      October 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      But weirdly you needed good math scores to get your degree right? Its a very odd correlation. Imo anyway

      1. crustytuna

        October 22, 2019 at 7:14 pm

        Actually, 🤔. I don’t really use any math in my day to day and only took math in my first year of uni… A bit of physics, but the computer calculates things automatically…

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