Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021
2+2=6 Or Anything You Want It To Be
I really fear for the future of our country if something isn’t done to stop the insanity of our American educational system. One thing that sticks in my mind from my time in Germany is the education of the young people I met there, and their interest in and engagement with culture.
Two German friends my age, Hans and Erika, have a daughter, Gisela. Last time I saw her was in 2002, when she was in her early twenties. She took me to meet her friends, who were full of questions about America, and took advantage of my availability to pump me over beer and wurst. They knew more about the US than most people here of similar age, and asked insightful questions. And, they all could speak good English! It’s taught in their schools. How many young Americans could carry on an intelligent conversation in another language?
What brought this to my mind was an article in THE WEEK magazine. The Oregon Department of Education is telling teachers to take a class called “dismantling racism in mathematics.” Yes, you read that right, racism in mathematics!
The course instructs teachers that “the focus on getting the ‘right’ answer and requiring students to show their work,” are actually “toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture.” Teachers are told “not to perpetuate objectivity by upholding ideas that there are always right and wrong answers.”
I’m not making up this lunacy, wish that could be the case.
Apparently, kids today can’t handle being told they’re wrong about anything, and for teachers to insist on correct answers is racist. Notice that they put ‘right’ in quotation marks, as though it is somehow subjective. It may be subjective in the social sciences, but in mathematics? If the United States is to continue its preeminent position on the world stage, we need generations of young people who can handle the disappointments of the real world, a world that won’t coddle them.
Teachers in my generation insisted on right answers, and our egos weren’t too fragile to take the consequences of being wrong.
I’m liberal in my social views, but this goes far beyond liberalism into insanity. No wonder the rest of the world thinks all Americans are dumb hicks!
Since at least ancient Egypt and Greece , mathematics, the science of numbers, has been held in high regard. Philosophers studied and admired the purity of mathematics and geometry. These old guys worked out the rules of mathematics, and discovered most of the higher math we rely on today. Their success relied on getting the right answers. Using rules of mathematics and geometry, they worked out the diameter of the Earth using nothing more sophisticated than the sun’s light shining into two deep wells. They were only off slightly, because the Earth is not a perfect sphere, as they thought.
Later, the Romans were less interested in the theoretical and philosophical aspects of mathematics, but in its practical applications. They were great engineers, which is why so many of their constructions survive today, more than two thousand years later. They got the math right, even with their cumbersome numerals.
When Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages by religious nonsense, the great Arab scientists invented the zero, and carried on the mathematical knowledge of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. They knew the Earth was round and revolved around the Sun, while back in Europe the church was teaching a flat Earth and a geocentric universe. It took us far too long to bring science to the forefront and shake off those ridiculous ideas.
Today, we pride ourselves on our science and engineering, both of which require getting the right answer. There is no ‘right’ answer in mathematics, only the one right answer!
More insanity: Just heard on TV that Dr. Seuss books are being withdrawn by the publisher as racist. Man, that’s sick!
About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-3/
Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.