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Topic: Would effective math education prevent 'bad things' from happening?
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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Would effective math education prevent 'bad things' from happening?
Posted: Apr 17, 2014 5:22 AM
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I'm hoping the Moderators will permit me this thread, though I accept that this post has nothing whatsoever to do *directly* with math education.

But 'indirectly'? I believe there is PLENTY of connection.

I realise that Professor Wayne Bishop may well have several negative comments to make regarding the lack of connecion of its contents with (math) education.

Robert Hansen may (or may not) discover that the philosophy underlying has little to do with PUSHING and nothing whatsoever to do with GOADING.

And, presumably, Greg Goodknight will complain that this lacks 'depth' and 'gravitas': I disagree strongly with Mr Goodknight, believing that the issues I'm trying to treat do indeed possess both 'depth' and 'gravitas'.

I've given given it this specific title because I do genuinely believe know that *effective* education in math does "STRONGLY CONTRIBUTE TO" *effective* education generally. In any case, everyone has accepted that 'math' is an essential part of all education (remember 'reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic???) - though we know very little indeed about how to ensure our students do not come out of school fearing or loathing math.

By and large, we do seem to have accepted in that *effective* education does indeed help, in many ways, to prevent 'bad things from happening'. I claim, however, that we (especially including the specialists) know very little indeed about how to create real-life 'systems' that would ensure delivery of education *effectively*.

So, here are links to a compendium of pieces from the New Yorker, describing some very bad things that happened in Rwanda in 1994, in the hope that we can stir ourselves, worldwide, to ensure that such things will never happen again anywhere. Hopefully we can start the process here at Math-teach.

- -- Genocides, Remembered and Forgotten, by George Packer

- -- "The Life After", by Philip Gourevitch
Fifteen years after the genocide in Rwanda, the reconciliation defies expectations

- -- Remembering in Rwanda, by Philip Gourevitch

Do please read the whole article about the massacre , which originally appeared about a year after the massacre in Rwanda of the Tutsi tribals by the Hutus.

But perhaps the most devastating part of Gourevitch's moving piece is the following passage:
Shortly after my conversation with Kagame, I ran into an American military-intelligence officer, who was having a supper of Jack Daniel's and Coca-Cola at a Kigali bar. "I hear you're interested in genocide," he said. "Do you know what genocide is?"

I asked him to tell me.

"A cheese sandwich," he said. "Write it down. Genocide is a cheese sandwich."

I asked him how he figured that.

"What does anyone care about a year-old cheese sandwich?" he said. ?Genocide, genocide, genocide. Cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich. Who (cares)? Crimes against humanity - where's humanity? Who's humanity? You? Me? Did you see a crime committed against you? Hey, just a million Rwandans. Did you ever hear about the Genocide Convention?"

I said I had. It was passed by the United Nations in 1948, in the days after Nuremberg; it has been ratified by scores of countries; and it says that they will all undertake to prevent and punish genocide if it should ever happen again. "That convention," the American at the bar said, "makes a nice wrapping for a cheese sandwich."

For a time, in June, 1994, as the killing continued in Rwanda, the Clinton Administration instructed its officials to avoid calling it a genocide, although the possibility that "acts of genocide may have occurred" was acknowledged. "There are obligations which arise in connection with the use of the term [genocide]," Christine Shelly, a State Department spokeswoman, explained at the time. On April 21st of that year, two weeks after the slaughter of Tutsis began, General Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the U.N. force in Rwanda, had announced that he could end the genocide with between five thousand and eight thousand troops. Instead, the Security Council cut Dallaire's existing force, of two thousand five hundred, to two hundred and seventy. Dallaire's claim that vigorous intervention could have prevented hundreds of thousands of deaths is now widely held as obvious; a Western military source familiar with the region told me that a few thousand soldiers with tanks !
and big guns could have knocked out the radio, closed off Rwanda's main roads, and shut down the genocide in one or two days.

Later, when United Nations and international relief agencies rushed in to wrestle with the humanitarian disasters that the genocide had created, they quickly discovered that there was nothing much to be done except bury the bodies.

I do believe that *effective* education (of ALL of us citizens) would have "SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTED" to overcome the Clinton administration's reluctance to term what was happening in Rwanda a 'genocide'; and to prevent the people 'in charge' of the Security Council at the time from cutting down General Dallaire's peacekeeping force down to utterly laughable levels. *Effective* math education would significantly "CONTRIBUTE TO" *effective* education on the whole - and the lack of effective education in math would be a significant hindrance to providing *effective* education in general. (The word *effective* in a system has some deeper meaning than the same word outside a system).


Message was edited by: GS Chandy

Message was edited by: GS Chandy

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