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June 22, 2005



I never thought before of teaching math as a political/cultural effort before. Now that I come to think of it the concept of "SOCIAL utility problems" to practically learn math concepts has been around since the turn of the last century. How much of the comparison of the topics in the "73" index which I would describe as raw math skills as opposed to the "98" index of "practical applications" is the result of a concerted effort to "socialize" the subject matter I'm not sure..but certainly graduates should at least know the formal concept names; factoring, finite, factoring etc. if they are going to succeed academically.


Social utility problems?

Like how many homeless people could be fed by one of Ronald Ray-Gun's battleships?

I'll bet you get a different answer to that question in Bandar Aceh than you would in Minneapolis/St. Paul?


Jack and Jill went up the hill. Jack walked at 4 miles and hour. Jill walked at 3 miles an hour. Which will get to the top of the hill first?

Rafael Palmeiro has 65 hits in 214 at bats. What is his batting average?

In the "jargon" of the teaching profession..those are what have ALWAYS been called "social utility problems"..All of you had them when you were at any level of schooling. They are supposed to supplement the teaching of math concepts..not supplant or indocrinate..although maybe as Sandy's post suggests this is changing.

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