If Only They were Athletes, Part 1

See Math Plus ‘Geeky’ Images Equals Deterred Students for more depressing evidence of modern priorities. As human societies grow ever more dependent upon advanced technology, we Americans continue to positively discourage the development of mathematical talent. This particular article deals with a general cultural prejudice against ‘geeks’, that is, smart boys (mostly) who can do the sorts of mathematics which is necessary for creative work in engineering, scientific research, and ‘pure’ mathematics.

We tease mathematically gifted students with the possibilities of learning when they’re young and then place them in classrooms with teaching methods oriented towards those who don’t want to learn or those who have to struggle to learn mathematics. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of level of maturity in abstract thinking, a problem which would be solved by adopting an achievement level system of education instead of an age-cohort system.

This lack of concern about the nurturing of creative talent in general isn’t a new problem in these United States of America. I was diverted from my goal of studying theoretical physics when I found I couldn’t compete in my first two years of college because I had been trained to be lazy in high school. My high school course-work had been ridiculously easy. But I also didn’t pursue enriched studies on my own in high school as many successful mathematicians and scientists had done in similar situations. This was partly because I grew up in a sports-centered neighborhood in a sports-crazy town and partly because I’d taught myself how to watch TV and read undemanding books so I could participate in conversations with my friends and schoolmates. I didn’t want to be strange.

The simple fact is: Americans like good athletes and don’t like smart kids. They don’t strongly dislike smart kids so much as they dislike being around them when they’re being smart.

A town or city would be in uproar against a public school system that didn’t take good care of talented athletes but few there are who think that maybe other sorts of gifts should also be nurtured. Little it matters if those gifts are directed towards the core subjects of education because the schools exist for social reasons, to indoctrinate children into the mainstream of American society.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Modern culture

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