TED Conversations

Michael Froemmcke


This conversation is closed.

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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jan 29 2013: sorry but no. average is a word borrowed by math. it is much older and broader. if average would be a math term, tell me what "average citizen" would mean? add up all the citizens, divide by the number of citizen, and you get an average citizens? how to add two persons?

      if one wants to be witty, wit is required.
      • C B

        • 0
        Jan 29 2013: Not really,

        You are referring to arithmetic mean.
        Average is a typical value or central tendency in a set.

        Many other ways to found an average.

        "Many different descriptive statistics can be chosen as a measure of the central tendency of the data items. These include the arithmetic mean, the median, and the mode. Other statistics, such as the standard deviation and the range, are called measures of spread and describe how spread out the data is." - Wikipedia, of course.

        So the average citizen would be a citizen who represents the typical or the central tendency in the set of all citizens. He might not even exist in a physical form!

        Math isn't really about numbers.

        Don't mistake all math for arithmetic.
        • thumb
          Jan 29 2013: one more time, the last time: average is NOT a math term. it is a common word in english language. math also uses it. but when we say "average citizen" we are NOT referring to the mathematical meaning.


          av·er·age (vr-j, vrj)
          1. (Mathematics) Of, relating to, or constituting an average.
          2. Being intermediate between extremes, as on a scale: a player of average ability.
          3. Usual or ordinary in kind or character: a poll of average people; average eyesight.
          4. Assessed in accordance with the law of averages.
      • C B

        • 0
        Jan 29 2013: As for the used of the word "average", I referred to the concept (fell free to re read the 1st post).

        It's a mathmatic concept even before math was formalized as a science. Math describes how things are, doesn't create them.

        Average was a math concept before math, english or any language had a word for it ;). English just happened to pick average.
      • C B

        • 0
        Jan 29 2013: Do I get to get an F in the good company of all the positivist philosophers?

        Mind you, I also find quantum physics terribly exciting and eagerly await to see where Schrodinger's cat will take us next!

        I just wouldn't simply fail someone for grounding arguments in a school of thought that gave us so much.
        • Jan 29 2013: ....where Schrodinger's cat will take us next!

          To 'non locality' and it's the end of the very notion ' next'
          Welcome ! :)
      • C B

        • +1
        Jan 29 2013: Thanks! Now you got me busy again :)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.