Editorial: Evolution in Mathematics
Some things are too good to pass up. This has been circulating on the Internet and it cries out to be shared. It's dedicated to all who watched their children struggle through the debacle called "new math" a few years back, and who struggled through it themselves. Most of all, it's dedicated to all of us who raised our voices in protest to the "new math" and were treated like the kid in The Emperor's New Clothes. Enjoy.
Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1970: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M." The set "C" (the cost of production) contains 20 fewer points than the set "M." Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?
Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class discussion after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.
Teaching Math in 2000: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120. How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60? Be sure to shred your notes and calculations.
Teaching Math in 2010: We don't know yet. However, the trend clearly suggests the increasing influence of a substance "defined" by one of the winners in this year's Washington Post Style Invitational.
The Invitational invites readers to take any word from the dictionary and alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and then supplying a definition for the newly created word. The applicable word in this case is Bozone (n.): A substance that can, seemingly at random, surround an otherwise extremely intelligent person, suspending the ability to reason and even barring the penetration of rational argument. Bozone, unfortunately, shows little sign of disappearing in the near future.
The sad part is that some things, including certain aspects of the evolution in mathematics, are too true to be funny.