I know I'm biased. Geek is as geek does, but $deity almighty am I tired of that line. If simple math isn't valuable to your profession, it might at least be worth a think about how valuable your "profession" might be in the first place.
Some of the huge systemic problems we are facing right now may have something to do with the fact that we have entirely too many professions where it really doesn't matter if one could master simple math.
I've made this point before, but people often conflate the two, and are unable to separate them in their minds.
What this person is saying is "these things do not train a person to perform these specific sets of tasks". That's vocational training, and there's nothing wrong with that. Academic education, on the other hand, is about learning to think, about history, rhetoric, science, and all sorts of things that aren't directly applicable to a particular job, but provide a necessary foundation for critical thinking and enlightenment, so to speak.
What our system really needs is two streams. An academic stream, for those who choose, and a vocational stream, which is what a large proportion of students and seemingly educators like this guy want.
This way, everyone gets what they want. Students truly interested in learning things not directly related to performing a job will have the benefit of a more supportive learning environment, and students who just want to get a job will also attain the required vocational training.
It's really win-win.
As a disclaimer to all of this, I was the type that had fun proving stuff in seventh grade and had already read through Spivak's Calculus by Grade 10.
This makes your earlier claim of never having seen most of the concepts rather dubious.
Just because basic calculus (or other math) isn't used in our everyday life, doesn't mean it is wasteful to learn it. So yeah, I'm tired of that line too.
In 10th grade most kids have done a year of algebra and are doing plane geometry along with simple proofs.
That must be it: the scientific sample of people he described the test contents too did not use proofs in their work. Therefore, introducing mathematical logic in 10th grade is not going to prepare students for the high-tech jobs of the future.
From what I've seen the biggest problems my sibs had with higher math wasn't the higher math, it was the algebra underlying it. They get one year of Algebra in 8th grade and the move on to Geometry assuming they have mastered it, but they havent.
There is a strong resistance from the kids because its either boring, too hard or not explained in a way that is relevant to them to see how it can be applied. This is among the main reasons why in the US the number of SMT college/uni graduates has not increased since 1980, while humanities has more than doubled.
Similarly, electricians need very little math at all. We clearly need electricians. Should we just not educate the students we think are likely to be electricians? Or should we have a real discussion about what topics are most likely to enrich the lives of the most students?
We just yesterday had an article posted about the 1850's Harvard entrance exam. Surely, if they had a time machine, there'd be quite a few antebellum Harvard freshman willing to tell us all how important it is to memorize Thucydides in the original Greek.
For instance, a large number of doctors tested (in a study I can't locate the citation for) fell prey to Base Rate Neglect when doing a mock diagnosis. This seriously affects the amount of money wasted and the amount of illnesses cured in medicine. Along with a wide swath of related problems, it could be cured with an intuitive understanding of basic probability theory.
If you fail to recognize the importance of understanding math in your profession, then yes: http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_donnelly_shows_how_stats_fool....
Whether one uses specific knowledge directly in their profession is irrelevant. The knowledge is required to teach the concepts and skills. There is also more to life than one's profession.
The other day I was building something and realized that I hadn't done a trig problem in at least 10 years. I felt pretty sad when I had to look up how to solve it. I still remembered the general concept, but the details were lost on me. Yet, it was important that I knew how to do it.
I'm trying to go through Khan Academy in my spare time to learn and relearn the math that has slid out of my memory.
At least in this case you know what things to look up; imagine never having learned those things in the first place.
I try to quickly learn about every concept I come across to the point that I understand when and why you would want to use it, but not the point that I understand how to implement it. When I encounter a problem that fits the concept, then I can look it up and learn how to do it fully.
I don't know, I feel it has served me well anyway. I like to jump on problems in all kinds of industries, so it is impossible to study everything ahead of time.
You know what is even funnier? That after learning the logic behind programming I was able to perceive mathematical concepts under a whole different view and had so many fulfilling "oh that!" moments so far!
I agree that everyone should learn math in school, but that's so they can learn how to think and analyze. If the skills have atrophied through disuse I would conclude that they have found other ways to achieve the same goals.
Graphics designers often use a lot of math directly when working out layout's and things. An intuitive understanding and lot's of effort can help compensate but it's a significant loss if they can't do simple math on how tall / wide things are when you scale them.
I apologize if English is not your native tongue.
Then I guess he won't be using his comment history on HN as a reference for his next interview.
"Managers, salespeople, and lawyers with [a] poor understanding of math as basic as adding fractions are very risky. It's not that they can't perform most job functions, it's that they are extremely likely to make costly mistakes. 'When should I add one more person to keep people from charging as much overtime?' Or, the old: 'Should I offer overtime or comp time?' etc. As [for] salespeople and lawyers, effective negotiation require[s] them to be able to say: 'I can't drop the price any more but I can do X' (which costs us less), etc.
"Graphic[...] designers often use a lot of math directly when working out layouts and things. An intuitive understanding and lots of effort can help compensate, but it's a significant loss if they can't do simple math on how tall / wide things are when you scale them."
Is that written poorly enough to take the time to passive-aggressively call someone stupid on the internet?
Maybe someone should start working on a text-to-speech app for HN with built-in meaning detection, then? Without one, onemoreact's posts unfortunately were not read out loud to me, and I had to do double-takes for "vary", "preform", and "incite" (all real words pronounced differently than what was intended). The missing punctuation also made it difficult to parse the text given the absence of verbal pauses or tone changes.
It'd be different if the argument was incoherent, or took a huge amount of effort to understand.
English is my second language, and I sorta know a couple more and could have a nice rant about English orthography and phoneticity or lack thereof and the root causes of this unfortunate situation. English as a second language issues might cause one to confuse "vary" and "very" but will not be the cause of pluralizing with an apostrophe. The lack of quotation marks is also at best a laziness issue, not a dyslexia issue.
I really struggle to see why someone would go to the effort of posting a comment and not bother to correct at least the spellcheck-catchable typo "extreamly."
Pluralizing with an apostrophe or not using quotation marks are even common with people who have English as a first language, and are signs of discomfort or lack of practice with English writing, which could be the result of dyslexia, English as an eighth language, or any other reason. Could even be stupidity, but when the ideas are coherent, to jump to that just seems to be a way to feel superior to someone.
Seemed like an intelligent enough comment to me, even though I would extend it to the reading comprehension that the author of the subject of this thread must lack to fail a 10th grade reading test with 62%, then further extend it to become a belligerent attack on management in general. The school boards in America are still debating evolution every single year. I add, of course, that school boards have nothing to do with teacher's unions, and break them more often than they support them.
I wish you luck in your struggle.
For salespeople, sums, differences, multiplication and division of fractions might not be the best example; calculus might be more appropriate. Some of the best salespeople I've ever worked with could effortlessly modify the deal numbers in their head on the fly during a negotiation. For example, it could entail working out a seemingly big "cash discount" number and offering it on the spot, knowing full well that it won't take so many points off the margin that the pricing team will throw a fit nor impact their commission such that they care. These are fairly simplistic one or two decimal place fractional arithmetic that are only moderately more complex for the layperson than tallying up the tip at a meal, but it puts a lot of pressure on the customers when they are told, "if I have to walk out of this meeting without closing, I won't ever get the authority to offer that discount again".
Take a look around and I think you'll find many, many incredible things that were done and made without the aid of trig and algebra. Specialization is pretty much the foundation of modern economics after all.
> If simple math isn't valuable to your profession, it might at least be worth a think about how valuable your "profession" might be in the first place
I don't think the requirement for maths is a way to judge the value of a profession. I think it's essential for every day life, but not necessarily for work.
There's more to life than knowing how to do math. And the people ruining the world are generally not the ones that suck at math.
Also while I can think of several jobs you might be able to conduct without knowing maths, performance in most of them could nevertheless improved a lot by knowing maths. I imagine running your own business without knowing maths is also a recipe for disaster, so by deciding against maths, you automatically settle for loan slavery for your life.
I regularly end up doing simple math for people who cannot, including those in management. And that's not even counting the programs I have written.
Apparently, a lot of people have forgotten how to deal with simple fractions, to say nothing of simple 2D geometry. Most of you probably have no idea how many windows have ended up screwed up or back ordered because of this...
The test-taker seems to be making excuses.
The point probably is your and other people's definition of what "simple math" is and should be...