John Miller

 

THE GREAT MATHS HOAX

 

This web page is dedicated to the millions of people who hated maths at school, who lack the maths 'gene' and who had maths rammed down their throats for hour upon desperate hour a week, 'because you'll need it later on' or 'because it's developing logical thinking'.

 

This is a page devoted to all those who know these incitements were just plain nonsense, bunkum, baloney. They haven't used the sort of maths in the maths exam papers attached since they left school. They're the victims of an intellectual form of child abuse.

 

Since time immemorial the three R's have been reading, 'riting' and 'rithmetic'. NB, 'rithmetic', not maths.

 

Whilst everyone should have a basic understanding of arithmetic, maths is a trade skill. Most adults wouldn't use maths from one year to the next. They can't remember any of the maths they did at school, cooped up in classrooms when they could have been running free outside.

 

Same with science, which is just maths masquerading under another name.

 

To tell school students that maths is an essential career skill is a fraud, a hoax a legerdemain. 10% of school students doing it would be about right - and even if they had a vacation in the sciences that used maths, they would rarely use the stuff they learnt in school - or they'd get a machine to do it for them. It's importance in school curricula is out of all proportion to it's value to the every day life of 95% of people.

 

Take out rods, poles and perches; take out pounds, shillings, pence; take out ounces, pounds and tons, throw away the log books and trig tables; throw out simultaneous equations and geometry. How many people use this stuff? Sweet bugger all.

 

Once you've switched to a metric system, made sure every student knew their tables and were competent at mental arithmetic, given every student a calculator and taught them how to use a spreadsheet, there shouldn't be much more to do.

 

There are more important things to learn about in schools.

 

If you need to have maths skills you can pick them up on the job, at TAFE or university.

 

Give people who handle money a computerized cash register and you could teach them everything they need to know by the end of grade 4.

 

The number of people who use maths in their careers doesn't justify the time spent in schools doing this stuff.

 

No-one ever became more intelligent doing, maths. As for logical thinking, all that happens is that the more intelligent maths students become better at doing maths. The transfer to other life situations is over-rated. In fact the number of mathematicians who have been blinded by faith in royal and ancient superstitions is legion.

 

If you want to be a rocket scientist, surveyor, engineer, actuary or statistician you can also pick up the relevant (specialized) skills at uni. You don't need to learn any of this stuff in schools - and a mature brain will pick it up in a tenth of the time.

 

If you want to be an electrician, plumber or builder you can pick up your maths skills in TAFE.

 

Let's not inflict this stuff on children who'll never use it, particularly those who don't have the aptitude for it.

 

Let's not have schools doing universities' dirty work for them.

 

Maths in schools is a form of quasi religious indoctrination, religious in the context that its existence in the school curriculum is justified on the basis of faith in the belief that secondary school students need to understand maths to successfully navigate the wilds of modern life. They don't.

 

Maths education in schools is based purely on the say so of a hand full of university academics and maths teachers that it's an important life skill. It's not. It bares little relevance to what most people do in their daily lives. There is no room for 'faith based' subjects in schools.

 

The time spent on maths squeezes out some of the important life-skills that children need to learn - before they get a job, get married, have children, get divorced, become lonely, get the sack and end up broke and on Prozac.

 

What you won't learn in maths classes is something useful like accountancy, book keeping, how to read a balance sheet, how to successfully run a share portfolio or make money on the stock market, how to become a financial success at the race track or the casino and why you need to avoid poker machines and lottery tickets.

 

Looking back on it I'd say cards would have to be a very useful addition to any numeracy program along with mental and sodoku. Any course that prides itself on stimulating mental thought processing and logical thinking would be deficient if it didn't include chess.

 

Every school student needs to ask themselves a few of questions; 'Do I need to learn this stuff?' Will I ever use this stuff?' How could I be better occupying myself right now if I wasn't sitting here being force-fed this crap?' If I need it, can I catch it up later on?

 

It's the same with science courses. Anyone who needs to know the laws of Hooke, Newton and Boyle should pick them up in post secondary school education. 'Science' is code word for more maths.

 

Kids get fired up at Canberra side show ally, Questacon and then go back to a life of drudgery in school doing equations. What a fraud that is.

 

On the other hand I find courses in the history of science fascinating. How come no-one every told me about Nikola Tesla until recently - or Hedy Lamarr? Most school students think Brunell is a country in South East Asia. By all means fill my mind up with the history of maths, science and engineering, but don't expect me to do equations.

 

If you've got the maths gene/aptitude/knack, at the end of year twelve you can appear as a genius with top marks for maths 1, maths 2, physics, chemistry and economics. Gonski and Gillard want these people to become teachers fer chrissakes. What dullness do we intend to inflict on the next generation of school students?

 

If you've got the music, sport and clown skills gene/aptitude/knack you're treated like a dunce. Chances are though that you'll make a good teacher.

 

It's currently the flavour of our time to shitbag university entrants to education courses who have low tertiary entrance scores. If there was a matriculation course called 'teaching' and it was broken down into three or four subjects, the students who would make the best teachers would enter universities looking like geniuses. The schools would end up with vibrant and dynamic teachers, instead of Gradgrinds.

 

Finally, if you don't have an IQ over 120, don't even think of doing maths after year 10. You'll drive yourself nuts.

 

Click here to see if you can do my 1961 year 11 maths papers. Unless you're a maths teacher I'll lay you London to a brick you'll have trouble reading the problems let along working out how to solve them. And I'll becha you that in all your adult life you've never used any of the stuff served up in the exams.

 

John Miller

January 2013

 

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John Miller

P.O. Box 3718 Weston Creek ACT Australia 2611.

61 2 6288 7703