Oh, So That’s Our Problem

I think I finally figured out our math problem (no pun intended). I thought that the concrete nature of mathematics was a given. Apparently I’m wrong. I just read the following from Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth:

Today, however, most philosophers no longer even regard mathematics as a body of truths.  The dominant philosophy of mathematics treats it as a social construction, like the game of baseball. “Three strikes and you’re out” is an arbitrary rule. It’s not true or false; it’s just the way we choose to play the game. By the same token, mathematical rules are just the way we play the game.

Even American schoolchildren are now taught this postmodern view of math. A popular middle school curriculum says students should learn that “mathematics is man-made, that it is arbitrary, and good solutions are arrived at by consensus among those who are considered expert.”

She then goes on to say,

Moreover, if math is arbitrary, then there are no wrong answers, just different perspectives. In Minnesota, teachers are instructed to be tolerant of “multiple mathematical worldviews.” In New Mexico, I met a young man who had recently graduated from high school, where a mathematics teacher had labeled him a “bigot” for thinking it was important to get the right answer. As long as students worked together in a group and achieved consensus, the teacher insisted, the outcome was acceptable.

Ah ha. So that’s been my problem. I’ve expected math to always lead to the same answer everytime. Now I realize that as long as Maddie and Chloe agree on what they can come up with, they are right. This should make math a LOT easier in the future.

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20 thoughts on “Oh, So That’s Our Problem

  1. martha10 says:

    my concern is that none of these post-modern math students build any sky scrapers, bridges or tunnels or we will be having some gigantic problems! (to say nothing of rocket scientists, target aimer people –whatever they are called, and the ripple effect go on and on like falling dominoes!) m

    Like

  2. Nikki says:

    A post-modern math limerick:
    Long ago it was true
    That one plus one equaled two
    But the times have changed
    And they’re all deranged
    To teach there are no absolutes
    I am so easily amused.

    Like

  3. mopsy says:

    I want THOSE kids building our bridges, sending rockets into space, flying the airplane. Not.
    My husband’s cousin’s wife was an 8th grade math teacher. Instead of teaching 8th grade math, she had to go back and teach the kids things they should have known by 4th grade.

    Like

  4. martha10 says:

    my concern is that none of these post-modern math students build any sky scrapers, bridges or tunnels or we will be having some gigantic problems! (to say nothing of rocket scientists, target aimer people –whatever they are called, and the ripple effect go on and on like falling dominoes!) m

    Like

  5. Nikki says:

    A post-modern math limerick:
    Long ago it was true
    That one plus one equaled two
    But the times have changed
    And they’re all deranged
    To teach there are no absolutes
    I am so easily amused.

    Like

  6. mopsy says:

    I want THOSE kids building our bridges, sending rockets into space, flying the airplane. Not.
    My husband’s cousin’s wife was an 8th grade math teacher. Instead of teaching 8th grade math, she had to go back and teach the kids things they should have known by 4th grade.

    Like

  7. Megan says:

    Well, I’ve never heard of this in real practice – it so surprised me when I read it in the book I thought I’d post it. Craig showed this to the math teachers at his school and they seemed to concur that it was pretty out there – that way of thinking has not trickled down to them yet.
    That’s good…

    Like

  8. Megan says:

    Well, I’ve never heard of this in real practice – it so surprised me when I read it in the book I thought I’d post it. Craig showed this to the math teachers at his school and they seemed to concur that it was pretty out there – that way of thinking has not trickled down to them yet.
    That’s good…

    Like

  9. Krista says:

    Yikes! Whoever wrote that article didn’t realize that the consensus still has to be the right answer! And usually by coming to a consensus you will come to the right answer. And if not then the teacher should direct that you go back and work on it some more.
    This is a sad day for mathematics… 😦

    Like

  10. Krista says:

    Yikes! Whoever wrote that article didn’t realize that the consensus still has to be the right answer! And usually by coming to a consensus you will come to the right answer. And if not then the teacher should direct that you go back and work on it some more.
    This is a sad day for mathematics… 😦

    Like

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