Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Math class is sure hard!"

...and this is why I believe that having a lot of formal education doesn't mean you're smart. How can you have a math class with no right or wrong answers?

From the linked essay by Jay Schalin:
And if somebody is better at language skills than quantitative reasoning, and therefore less interested in scientific matters, it is often best for all concerned if he or she does not study to be an electrical engineer.

Heh. My favorite anecdote from my least favorite EE lab was when my assigned partner for the week was the other chick, and we both arrived at the wrong answer in the pre-lab assignment and thus wired our transformer backwards--instead of stepping down from 120V to 6V, we stepped up to 2400V--and overloaded some capacitors, which caught on fire and shot across the room, narrowly missing some guys who got the right answer. (We were never assigned to work together again, which I'm sure was coincidence. ;)

But it really hammered home the fact that there are right and wrong answers, and you can't accomplish anything by assuming all answers are equally valid as long as they're written up properly (also made me realize I wasn't as smart as the "educators" in Podunk Community High School told me I was...alas).

Key graf:
Perhaps the key to producing more scientists in our society is not some sort of feminist Manhattan Project to produce more women scientists, but rather to promote science universally to all young students, and let those who have talent and inclinations in a given field pursue them.


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