Big Ideas From Little Minds

Robyn Grace, The Age‘s Education Editor, has a wide-ranging article today, on how to fix Australia’s education system. Grace’s article is titled,

Abolish the ATAR, make teachers repeat: The big ideas to shake up our education system

Grace’s article quotes the usual Smart People: Pasi Sahlberg, John Hattie, Geoff “too much basics” Masters, and so on. These go-to clowns suggest a number of old and new ways to paint the deckchairs.

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The Indelicate Art of the Mathematics Documentary

Mathsy people try very hard to like mathematics documentaries. They will frequently claim that they like them. But they don’t, really, not often, not much. For non-maths people it is much simpler: they don’t like maths documentaries and, if not so intimidated as to hold their tongues, they are generally happy to say so.

The sad reality is that most mathematics documentaries are bad. They are bad art, and they make for bad education.* This was brought to mind by a new Netflix documentary, A Trip to Infinity, and by a recent invitation. The invitation I’ll get to later. The documentary is bad.

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Slate Star Codex: The Lottery of Fascinations

We wrote once before about Scott Alexander’s blog Slate Star Codex (now Astral Codex Ten), on a great post he wrote about psychological testing. We’ve now run into another great SSC post, The Lottery of Fascinations, on Alexander’s lack of interest in mathematics. Here is part of the introduction:

Suppose I were to come out tomorrow as gay. Continue reading “Slate Star Codex: The Lottery of Fascinations”

Applied Mathematics is Bad Mathematics

Yes, the the title is clickbait, but it is not our clickbait. It’s the title of an interesting and semi-provocative 1981 article by Paul Halmos. Halmos’s article came to mind after a brief conversation recently, about applied mathematics in Australia. As with pretty much everything Halmos wrote, it seemed worth sharing.* Continue reading “Applied Mathematics is Bad Mathematics”