Q&A #4320

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Ancient math

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To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2002051911:44:51
Subject: Re: Ancient math

When I wrote of the fanatical glorification of the mathematical
knowledge of ancient cultures, I did not for a moment intend to
discredit any of them!

What I would like teachers to do is to speak of all ancient cultures
and their contributions to world math knowledge.  I would decry any
one try to depict one's own culture as "superior" to those of others
where knowledge was concerned.  The Indian contribution of the 'zero'
to the number system was probably the one great engine that
accelerated the understanding of numbers and made all the math
operations so much easier.  I am an Indian too - but i do not wish
that my countrymen should think of all other cultures as inferior and
I am keen that our kids don't pick up prejudices from less informed

I feel particularly concerned that the Hindu nationalist government
presently in power in this country is making every possible attempt to
whitewash history in order to make Hindu culture and religion appear
without a blemish - (which would actually be considered falsification
 from a historiographer's point of view).  Imagine history being
re-written by pliable bureaucrats!  Unprecedented in world history!!

I disapprove of their promoting vedic math to such a foolish extent
that they now claim that even computers can be got rid of as Hindus
would be able to do all their math work mentally!  Children are being
told exactly this in the schools run by their thinktanks.

If any math teacher in the world believes that this path is correct, I
would withdraw my statements.

- - Prasan Wilfred

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