Pipeline Propaganda
In Math there´s ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY to get the answer

This is a convenient way to disguise the limitations of the instructor. It´s also a handy way to insist on the student jumping through the hoop set up by the curriculum designer. It is ridiculous.



Math is cumulative and must be done in sequence



The sanctioned curriculum is the best way to learn

It likely wasn´t the way the material was discovered and the magic of the discovery process is lost without the need that inspired it. There certainly then is an alternate way to learn that could be more significant to some learners.

To be empowered, you must derive the theorems.

Logically like bridge building, unless you want to learn bridge building, you only need to know where the bridges are and what the tolls are to use them. That´s why engineers seldom derive the theorems, actuaries pass their exams without needing to derive theorems, clinical scientists don´t either. Nor do they engage in this activity in their professional work.



Pipeline Abuses
Math problems as punishment

In grade school and middle schools, it´s not uncommon for teachers to use math problems as tasks to fill student time after hours. As a handy control tactic it´s convenient to use challenging problems the instructor has only to check the bottom line answer from some answer book. But the impact is devastating to the future attitudes and numeracy of students.

Only the devotees may enter the temple of the elect.

Every area has its arcane terminology and its insider customs, partly for the convenience, but partly to maintain an elite status. In math, during those periods when the space program made mathematicians scarce in the schools, this tendency took an ugly turn. In the hands of an instructor who had limited ability in math and less enthusiasm, the pernicious tactic of telling students that they "had no head for math" became a vile, damaging habit when confronted with students who didn´t manage to rise above the lack of teacher inspiration. It continues still, revealing instructors with limited understanding themselves and little skill at conveying ideas.

Some of these attitudes have been shored up by statistical studies linking currently defined math ability and music ability, with the suggestion that genetic factors were involved. But there are also research results suggesting that music is more fundamental than speech and that language arose from music. Something so fundamental is not going to be genetically precluded from anyone´s repetoire. And then there´s the dispute over the definition of math and the fact that there´s no evidence to preclude anyone from developing numeracy nor the quantitative skills to empower their chosen life´s work and lifestyle.

If it wasn´t painful, you didn´t learn anything worthwhile.

When you gravitate to a subject, it usually comes so naturally and painlessly that the ease dismays others. Obviously you´ve learned the same material as those who struggled. Whose learning was worthwhile?

This excuse of making dis-ease a virtue disguises inappropriate use of a course as a gateway to limit the number of practitioners entering a field. As an added benefit, it also glorifies the survivors and unifies them against the criticisms by outsiders on how things are done.

for Literature-based Mathematics
Curriculum & Support