GS Chandy
Posts:
8,299
From:
Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered:
9/29/05


Re: Do We Learn All the Math We Need For Ordinary Life Before 5th Grade?
Posted:
Jan 15, 2013 11:18 PM


Responding further to Dave Renfro's of Jan 15, 2013 2:57 AM: Whenever I am tempted to lie or exaggerate or boast about something, Mark Twain's famous saw comes to mind:
"The best reason for telling the truth is that you never have to remember ANYTHING!" (words/ideas to that effect).
It came again to mind when I read through the boast of that 'literature lady' (if I may thus refer to her) about whom Richard Hake told us. As she (or someone) seems to have recounted the tale: +++ > > * I like to tell the story that Hans, a newly minted > Ph.D. in physics was > * stunned to find out he was married to somebody who > never took calculus. > * I don't know quite what he expected from an MA in > medieval literature, > * but the first year we were married he gave me an > ugly calculus book for > * Xmas, explaining it was a classic in the field > (Courant). The second > * year we were married I gave him a notebook with the > problems worked out. > * I never seemed to gain any insight from this > exercise, which struck me > * then as plodding and now I don't have any idea what > any of it means. > * Nonetheless, doing calculus for love is a far > better reason than the > * one promoted by Obama, Duncan, Bill Gates, et al. +++ On considering that story in a little more depth, it seems to be almost ENTIRELY falsehood (or, at least, EXTREMELY strange):
Hans did not know when he married the literature lady that his future wife had NEVER done anything in calculus?
That, to me, appears passing strange  but put it down to the VERY 'fast' life you guys lead in the US these days.
This literature lady claims her husband (Hans), wanting to acquaint her with a classic of mathematics, gave her "an ugly calculus book" (the Courant book) the first year they were married  and the second year she just gave him a notebook "with the problems worked out".
Just consider some of the implications of that statement.
  Not "some of the problems" worked out.
  Not "problems worked out".
  NO!!  she just gave him a notebook with "the problems worked out". Implying a) that she had worked out "ALL the problems" (as Dave Renfro has pointed out); and moreover b) that she had found it all to be simply an utter breeze!!
I now seem to recall that some of the problems in the Courant were not just 'challenging', but a few were indeed extremely difficult. And I was REALLY rather good at Calculus those days! I believe there were a few of those problems that I wasn't on my own able to work out. I was able to work them out only after a good bit of discussions with classmates and teachers.
This wonderful literature lady  she just handed her husband "a notebook with the problems worked out"! A veritable breeze indeed!!!
Amazing! The literature lady was a complete novice when she was given the Courant book.
She didn't even bother to discuss any of the problems or math processes involved with her Ph.D. (Physics) husband: a year later, she just nonchalantly handed him that famous notebook with "the problems worked out"!
I think many of us might have read Aldous Huxley's famous and touching story "Young Archimedes", where (if I recall rightly) the storyteller meets a young Italian boy, say about 1012 years in age, whose gifts in mathematics are so stupendous that he, the storyteller, feels like getting down on all fours and wagging his tail! (Something to that effect).
The literature lady's feat (breezing through all the Courant problems) was, I agree, not a patch on what "Young Archimedes" did (he INVENTED, for himself, the entire Pythagoras Theorem!)  but surely she must have been some small part of the way there?
I do believe the literature lady's husband, Hans, should urgently get himself down on all fours before her and wag his tail.
And, if Hans would PLEASE introduce me to his genius wife, I shall IMMEDIATELY get myself down on all fours and wag *my* tail!
Further: how come the literature lady did not, after that remarkable feat of mathematical intuition and understanding, do anything more in math later? Did her husband perhaps prevent her, out of 'male jealousy' or some such reprehensible trait to which we males are often subject?
How come that notebook is not treasured in some museum of mathematics?
These are 'mysteries' to be solved.
Or lies to be uncovered: and the literature lady's husband, Hans, might like to remind her of Mark Twain's aphorism.
GSC

