Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Hard Math of Low Expectations

Friday 5/17/11 "Count Your Money on NPR: "You don't have to understand how to compute interest."

What? Yes, you do. What are we? A bunch of 15th century illiterate sheep herders?

“We are challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.” - George W. Bush 1/8/2004

There are few jobs in the modern world, and fewer households where one can competently perform without an understanding of how interest works and a basic ability to compute it.

Interest computations aside, there remains a bias against Math and Science in American society. Students, Parents and Teachers think it is 'hard.' That might be because it has a right answer.

I once went to a Calculus professor in college and complained that he had given me no credit for all the work I'd done correctly on a difficult problem when I'd made a mistake in the very last computation which resulted in an incorrect answer. His response was, "The bridge fell down." He planned to graduate students that could go do things in the real world, such as building bridges, and if they got the computation wrong, there were and are real consequences.

These subjects are hard because they have more definite rightness and wrongness of answers. There is little debate and often no other interpretation. This is unlike many other subjects. This leads to more definite standards of performance and achievement. Folks think these subjects are hard, but, in reality, they are complaining about being measured.

Employers much prefer those who have studied hard subjects. Finance majors get more jobs than organizational behavior majors. Employers believe that they can put the finance major to work productively doing things with clear answers while they accumulate the experience needed to understand the nuances involved in deciphering organizational behavior.

Accurate Reality: If you cannot take the time to learn this much math and remember it, I certainly don't want the economic burden of trying to provide you a social safety net.

No comments:

Post a Comment