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Author Topic: Evolution of math in the USA  (Read 10551 times)
Alen
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2009, 02:10:55 am »

They just keep making it easier on children and allowing them excuses to make it easier on them. I think that reducing the difficulty is only reducing the intelligence of the kids.

I think Bush's no child left behind act may have helped force lower acedemic scores and higher body qutoas. I live in Nevada , ranking like #3 in the nation for drop-outs.

I find that making school less challenging were taking a step back instead of moving forward.
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2009, 02:32:49 am »

@original post:

That is extremely exaggerated. The only thing that has become easier in math is arithmetic, because we are used to using calculators. I personally think this is a good thing, because instead of memorizing multiplication problems, students can learn to do more advanced things earlier on.

Also, as Alvarin said, just because you know more or less doesn't mean you are more or less smart, and vice versa. Someone can have an IQ of 150 and know less than me (fact: I am not very knowledgeable) , and at the same time, someone can have an IQ of 80 and know more than Albert Einstein ever did. The only difference is it becomesharder to acquire knowledge if you are less smart, and easier if you are smarter.

Note: I am saying "smart" instead of "intelligent" because I'm not sure if intellect is smartness or possessing knowledge. (I told you I'm not very knowledgeable. Wink)
I don't doubt the flaws of IQ tests, but someone with an IQ of 80 is incredibly unlikely to ever "know more than Albert Einstein ever did", since by saying that you imply that they would know more about his own subject than him, which no one on Earth really has the claim to say, especially no one with an IQ below 100. Maybe a savant will come along some day and prove me wrong, but I'd say that's about 100% unlikely.

Acquiring knowledge is not an unlimited capability. There comes a point where some people simply cannot grasp the thing they're learning about, no matter how hard they try.
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Alen
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2009, 02:50:00 am »

@original post:

That is extremely exaggerated. The only thing that has become easier in math is arithmetic, because we are used to using calculators. I personally think this is a good thing, because instead of memorizing multiplication problems, students can learn to do more advanced things earlier on.

Also, as Alvarin said, just because you know more or less doesn't mean you are more or less smart, and vice versa. Someone can have an IQ of 150 and know less than me (fact: I am not very knowledgeable) , and at the same time, someone can have an IQ of 80 and know more than Albert Einstein ever did. The only difference is it becomesharder to acquire knowledge if you are less smart, and easier if you are smarter.


Note: I am saying "smart" instead of "intelligent" because I'm not sure if intellect is smartness or possessing knowledge. (I told you I'm not very knowledgeable. Wink)
I don't doubt the flaws of IQ tests, but someone with an IQ of 80 is incredibly unlikely to ever "know more than Albert Einstein ever did", since by saying that you imply that they would know more about his own subject than him, which no one on Earth really has the claim to say, especially no one with an IQ below 100. Maybe a savant will come along some day and prove me wrong, but I'd say that's about 100% unlikely.

Acquiring knowledge is not an unlimited capability. There comes a point where some people simply cannot grasp the thing they're learning about, no matter how hard they try.

True but they will never reach that point if their knowledge isn't tested or strained. The more you work at something the better you become at it, since they aren't really working on it, there not going to get any better.
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meep-eep
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2009, 03:53:28 am »

I get the hesitation to switching to a different system of weights, lengths, volumes, speeds, etc. It is hard to adjust when you're used to associating specific numbers with real-world measurables. The fact that calculations will be much easier after the transition is of little comfort to some people.

But what possible reason can Americans and Canadians have to still use the "letter" paper format?
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2009, 11:12:27 am »

One question - if we hadn't ever had 'lsd' money (pounds shillings pence etc), what would the penny farthing bicycle have been called? I mean, apart from a health hazard.
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Lukipela
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2009, 08:29:32 pm »

Personally, I think both systems have their place. Metric is most useful for measuring very large or small quantities, whereas the English system seems to be designed around being useful for everyday tasks. Most people don't have to use measurements smaller than an inch in their everyday lives, and the Fahrenheit scale is much more useful for measuring the temperature outside, as opposed to the temperature of melting iron or absolute zero.

I dunno, to be honest that sounds like what people might think if they've never dealt with the metric system. Look at volume for instance. In metrics, you have the cubic meter which is big.  At that stage you use barrels or something I think. But for use at home you have the cubic decimetre (called a litre), which is about a quarter gallon. When you buy fluids, you usually buy a litre or two, or a small bottle which is half a litre. When you cook, you usually use deciliters, i.e a tenth of a litre.That's around 0.4 cups. Just using the one unit . One unit which is easily convertible all the way up, instead of several different one that aren't related.

When it gets to doing something more exact it gets even weirder. I mean, I prefer to be able to tell people my length in cm, since I'd be between 5 foot 10 inches and 5 foot 11 inches, which is kind of inexact. But maybe that depends on what you're used to. But if I want to measure something for cutting or sawing or whatever, then an inch can easily be too big. At work I've seen US blueprints that use fractions, but that means you get stuff like 3 feet 10.37 inches, which just looks even more impractical.

And then you have weight. While coking, you can usually make do with grammes. When weighing yourself it's kilogrammes. Then after that you go to tonnes for big stuff. One unit all the way through.

But as meep said, I can understand the mental reluctance to this. I'll agree with him on papers as well. There is no reason to not use an easily scalable paper instead f those horrible sizes you guys use. That's just wrong.
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Alen
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2009, 09:05:42 pm »

Yep I personally like metric but that's because I'm Canadian, every country has 'Officially' adopted the metric system except for America.
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2009, 09:52:48 pm »

Yep I personally like metric but that's because I'm Canadian, every country has 'Officially' adopted the metric system except for America.
And yet you put letter paper in your printer...
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2009, 06:31:18 am »

I dunno, to be honest that sounds like what people might think if they've never dealt with the metric system.

I deal with it all the time; you've got no choice when you have a career in science. I still find it impractical for plenty of things, though.

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Look at volume for instance. In metrics, you have the cubic meter which is big.  At that stage you use barrels or something I think. But for use at home you have the cubic decimetre (called a litre), which is about a quarter gallon. When you buy fluids, you usually buy a litre or two, or a small bottle which is half a litre. When you cook, you usually use deciliters, i.e a tenth of a litre.That's around 0.4 cups. Just using the one unit . One unit which is easily convertible all the way up, instead of several different one that aren't related.

For the record, I have never seen anyone use deci-anything to measure something outside of a classroom.

Volume is sort of a bad example, since the liter and quart (for liquids), or the cubic meter and cubic yard (for anything else) are roughly equivalent. Still, the primarily 2:1 conversions in English volumes (cups, pints, quarts) are a lot easier to handle than breaking everything down into ml (at least for me, perhaps because I'm used to it). Besides, I bet you still order pints when you're out at the bar. Wink

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When it gets to doing something more exact it gets even weirder. I mean, I prefer to be able to tell people my length in cm, since I'd be between 5 foot 10 inches and 5 foot 11 inches, which is kind of inexact. But maybe that depends on what you're used to. But if I want to measure something for cutting or sawing or whatever, then an inch can easily be too big. At work I've seen US blueprints that use fractions, but that means you get stuff like 3 feet 10.37 inches, which just looks even more impractical.

Honestly, is your height that important that you need that level of precision? And blueprints are quite another story entirely, and probably should use metric. But for most measurements (of people size, anyway), feet + inches gives me a much better idea of how tall someone is, rather than trying to stack an obscene number of cm to figure it out. Again, probably because that's what I'm used to.

And so on. I think you get the idea by now.

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But as meep said, I can understand the mental reluctance to this. I'll agree with him on papers as well. There is no reason to not use an easily scalable paper instead f those horrible sizes you guys use. That's just wrong.

Lord knows where letter / legal / bigger paper sizes came from. Makes no sense to me either. Of course, here in the states, we just call it 8 1/2 by 11, and everyone knows what we're talking about. Wink

As for the main reluctance to change, I have heard that it's primarily a cost issue. The US is a big country, and the expense to change every road sign from miles to km (especially all those speed limit signs) would be immense. Never mind converting all the thermometers, scales, measuring cups, etc. etc. etc... It's not a little thing, because so many common items have some sort of measurement printed on them.
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2009, 10:20:37 am »

I think this thread shows that both systems are "practical" when you're used to them from early age. It's just that it's hard to learn a second system when you're not a young child. So having one ubiquitous standard would eventually make things simpler for everyone.

Also, typing "Fahrenheit" gets on my nerves.
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2009, 08:27:34 pm »

I deal with it all the time; you've got no choice when you have a career in science. I still find it impractical for plenty of things, though.

For the record, I have never seen anyone use deci-anything to measure something outside of a classroom.

Volume is sort of a bad example, since the liter and quart (for liquids), or the cubic meter and cubic yard (for anything else) are roughly equivalent. Still, the primarily 2:1 conversions in English volumes (cups, pints, quarts) are a lot easier to handle than breaking everything down into ml (at least for me, perhaps because I'm used to it). Besides, I bet you still order pints when you're out at the bar. Wink

That's just it though. You deal with it in science, not in everyday life. If you did, you'd know about things like measuring in dl. While I can't speak with certainty about the rest of Europe, at least the Scandinavian countries use it exclusively. All our recipes use dl. I'll gladly admit that volume is a bit of an odd bird in metric, as we use the 1 l = 1dm3 shorthand. To be really logical, 1 dl ought to be 0,01 dm3 or 10 cm3 I suppose. Out of interest, what units did you think we used for measurment in Europe? Just liters, or the same cups as you do?

As for pints, that's wrong as well I'm afraid. See what I mean about scientific use not equalling every day use? The word pint (stop/tuoppi) is sometimes used, but at least in the Scandinavian countries it mostly refers to 0.5 liters rather than what it actual is. In fact at least in Finland (and mostly Scandinavia) you order a large beer (0.5), or a bottle (0.33). sometimes there is a small beer (0.4). Because the phrasing varies the measurement in liters is always written out.

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Honestly, is your height that important that you need that level of precision? And blueprints are quite another story entirely, and probably should use metric. But for most measurements (of people size, anyway), feet + inches gives me a much better idea of how tall someone is, rather than trying to stack an obscene number of cm to figure it out. Again, probably because that's what I'm used to.

Height may have been a bad example, even though I'm confused as to how the reasoning "it's too exact" can be used when we use the same amount of numbers. 178 cm contains the same amount of numbers as 5'11", but it's more exact. Why waste time writing a less precise number? And it's not just blueprints where things like these can be easily found. If you ever want to do something around the home, such as building a small cabinet or just putting in new lists (picture link cause I don't know what they are called). 2.5 cm is way more than is needed to ensure that those things simply don't fit. and that's just housework.

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And so on. I think you get the idea by now.

Actually, I think it's interesting that you skipped weight, because that's where you see the difference the best. Like I said we can use the same scale and multiply up and down.  Grammes for cooking, kilos for regular weight, tonnes for big stuff and so on. You've got ounces, pounds, but then what? If something is heavier than say 400 pounds, what's the next unit? Is there one? Just asking out of curiosity. The same goes for distance. Is there anything between feet and miles? Seems an awfully big jump to make instead of having handy practical units that can be multiplied without having to take into account the whole 12 in 1 thing.

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Lord knows where letter / legal / bigger paper sizes came from. Makes no sense to me either. Of course, here in the states, we just call it 8 1/2 by 11, and everyone knows what we're talking about. Wink

While I realise it doesn't matter to most people, the lack of scalability really gets to those of us who are used to it.

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As for the main reluctance to change, I have heard that it's primarily a cost issue. The US is a big country, and the expense to change every road sign from miles to km (especially all those speed limit signs) would be immense. Never mind converting all the thermometers, scales, measuring cups, etc. etc. etc... It's not a little thing, because so many common items have some sort of measurement printed on them.

Oh, I understand why you're reluctant to change. you're so entrenched in the system. Maybe you should just go one measurement at a time. start with volume, then 20 years later weight and then finally length, which is the big one I guess.
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2009, 08:42:10 pm »

For the record, I have never seen anyone use deci-anything to measure something outside of a classroom.
I have, when I was in Switzerland I think.

Lord knows where letter / legal / bigger paper sizes came from. Makes no sense to me either. Of course, here in the states, we just call it 8 1/2 by 11, and everyone knows what we're talking about. Wink
We should adopt the paper size system used in Britain, then. A sheet of A4 paper is exactly twice as large as an A5 sheet and half the size of an A6 sheet, which itself is half an A7 sheet (if that exists) and so on and so forth. (A4 is approximately the same size as letter, perhaps 8 by 12 inches or 8 by 11.5).

lists (picture link cause I don't know what they are called).
...I have no idea what on earth that is...

You've got ounces, pounds, but then what? If something is heavier than say 400 pounds, what's the next unit? Is there one?
The next unit would be the short ton, I believe, which is 2000 pounds.

Is there anything between feet and miles? Seems an awfully big jump to make instead of having handy practical units that can be multiplied without having to take into account the whole 12 in 1 thing.
Well, there's yards, but that's about it; and a yard is only three feet. That still makes for a big jump, with a little more than 1700 yards in a mile if I recall correctly.





...Did the UK actually change its road signs to metric? I think they were still in MPH when I was there, but I could be wrong...
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2009, 09:34:57 pm »

1 furlong = 220 yards = 1/8 of a mile
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2009, 12:43:28 am »

A typical length measures are the football field and the empire state building Smiley
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Draxas
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Re: Evolution of math in the USA
« Reply #29 on: August 18, 2009, 07:16:29 am »

That's just it though. You deal with it in science, not in everyday life. If you did, you'd know about things like measuring in dl. While I can't speak with certainty about the rest of Europe, at least the Scandinavian countries use it exclusively. All our recipes use dl. I'll gladly admit that volume is a bit of an odd bird in metric, as we use the 1 l = 1dm3 shorthand. To be really logical, 1 dl ought to be 0,01 dm3 or 10 cm3 I suppose. Out of interest, what units did you think we used for measurment in Europe? Just liters, or the same cups as you do?

I pretty much expected everything either in liters or ml, since those are the only units I commonly see and use in the lab. I've never seen deciliters or centiliters used for anything other than conversion exercises in school.

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As for pints, that's wrong as well I'm afraid. See what I mean about scientific use not equalling every day use? The word pint (stop/tuoppi) is sometimes used, but at least in the Scandinavian countries it mostly refers to 0.5 liters rather than what it actual is. In fact at least in Finland (and mostly Scandinavia) you order a large beer (0.5), or a bottle (0.33). sometimes there is a small beer (0.4). Because the phrasing varies the measurement in liters is always written out.

Well, that certainly didn't mitigate the confusion any. Tongue

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Height may have been a bad example, even though I'm confused as to how the reasoning "it's too exact" can be used when we use the same amount of numbers. 178 cm contains the same amount of numbers as 5'11", but it's more exact. Why waste time writing a less precise number? And it's not just blueprints where things like these can be easily found. If you ever want to do something around the home, such as building a small cabinet or just putting in new lists (picture link cause I don't know what they are called). 2.5 cm is way more than is needed to ensure that those things simply don't fit. and that's just housework.

What can I say, five-eleven just rolls off the tongue. One-hundred-sevety-eight-centimeters... not so much.

I believe those things are called moldings, if I'm not mistaken.

You also have to realize, that since everything is in English units around here, builders make things like walls accurate to whole inches. Wink

On the subject of precision, where do you draw the line? Sure, I could be measuring things out to mm or even micrometers, but 99% of the time, who cares? Usually within those 2.5 cm is close enough.

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Actually, I think it's interesting that you skipped weight, because that's where you see the difference the best. Like I said we can use the same scale and multiply up and down.  Grammes for cooking, kilos for regular weight, tonnes for big stuff and so on. You've got ounces, pounds, but then what? If something is heavier than say 400 pounds, what's the next unit? Is there one? Just asking out of curiosity. The same goes for distance. Is there anything between feet and miles? Seems an awfully big jump to make instead of having handy practical units that can be multiplied without having to take into account the whole 12 in 1 thing.

As Celtic Minstrel mentioned, 2000 pounds = 1 ton. Not the same thing as a metric ton, mind you. And 3 feet = 1 yard, and almost as frequently (like Alvarin said, and mostly a tongue in cheek thing, not a real measurement), 100 yards = 1 football field. That's American Football to you folks outside the states, of course.

Realistically, length is silly to compare. Just as there are 1700+ yards in a mile, there are 1000 meters in a km. Sure, the metric conversions are easier, but both get the same point across: We have little measurements, and big ones, and few practical uses for anything in between. And once again, I've never seen furlongs used outside of a classroom.

Weight is a similar story. Ounces for small weights, pounds for medium weights, and tons for big stuff. Once you hit 500 pounds, usage generally switches to a quarter-ton. The concept is similar to length: There isn't much need for a unit between pounds and tons, because there are few practical uses for it.

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Oh, I understand why you're reluctant to change. you're so entrenched in the system. Maybe you should just go one measurement at a time. start with volume, then 20 years later weight and then finally length, which is the big one I guess.

Because a combined Metric-English system totally wouldn't drive people crazy, no sir. Wink
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