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Michael Froemmcke


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What does the average citizen need maths for?

I had a conventional education. In school and later at other educational institutions I was always just mediocre - but I became excellent at this - and as the years went buy I asked myself why the educational systems around the world seem to be promoting the same subjects.


Topics: curriculum

Closing Statement from Michael Froemmcke

I can understand that people, especially those who spent long years learning maths, are very passionate about the subject. Yet I am still not convinced that the actual outcome justifies the effort and, in some cases, pain associated with this subject. There seems to be widespread reluctance to even contemplate any alternatives, which reinforces my suspicion that most people are indoctrinated in believing that there is no good education without maths. I think the understanding of certain principles is far more important than an intricate knowledge of mathematics.... But this is just my opinion. Thanks to all the participants in this minor debate.

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  • Jan 23 2013: As Ken Robinson says, the ultimate goal of math in schools is to teach students calculus.
    In reality, just a few percent of us need to know calculus, but everybody needs to know statistics.
    Without an understanding of statistics and basic math you can be decieved about everything from how much you are being ripped off by interest rates on your mortgage to organizations that are lying about the significance of a change in the occurrance of something to suit their own agenda.
    In this world, without basic math and particularly statistics you are the mercy of every con artist and shyster with something to sell
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      Jan 23 2013: I once checked the interest I as charged on my mortgage. I had been overcharged. What a surprise! Not by much but... So I went to the bank and after talking to the manager who was keen to get to the bottom of the mathematical nuances and after a few calls and conversations with the service in charge of working out the amount. None of us was wiser. I had wasted an hour of unpaid time. From the point I realised how inadequate my education was. I had only given me the mean to work out by how much I was being ripped off.
    • Jan 24 2013: I think you've touched on a good point Gordon. I'm not sure, but I suspect the whole imperial measuring system, as opposed to the logical metric one, was designed to confuse and cheat the lower classes, who probably never benifitted from many years of formal maths education.
      A modern example would be trying to compare deals between different telco/ electricity providers. Nearly impossible, and I have university level maths education.

      The other benificial aspect is the way it teaches you to think. It is teaching you how to compare numerically. How could I work out whether the S2.50 jar of 500g pasta sauce is better value than the S3 750g jar.
      I use maths everyday.

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