Did you know?

How could you?

Someone sent me this.  I have no clue where it’s from, I just think it is awesome (in a scary facts kind of way).


  1. @Deannie, I don’t quite agree. When you (and I) memorized the tables of multiplication, we weren’t fully aware of the mathematical significance of number-theory. That came later. Much of ‘learning’ consists of mastering BOTH the facts and the ‘understanding’, learning BOTH the HOW (skill) and the WHY (rationale).
    It’s not a bad idea to do it in this order (first HOW then WHY) either: young kids are incredibly adapt at memorizing things, even when they don’t quite understand the underlying principles (they already can talk -even foreign languages when exposed to it!!-, without having an idea about syntax and grammar).
    And that, then, is also my critique of Adam Scott’s post. The fact that these kids know facts that he doesn’t, doesn’t mean that our kids ONLY learn facts. And his contention that those facts are irrelevant is just childish: ANY single ‘fact’ taken apart and out of contect can be shown to be fairly (if not totally) meaningless for your very existence and/or well being. That’s like the classic old nihilstic attitude “mathematics was invented to make my life miserable, it won’t do me ANY good later in life, people have lived happily for ages without it”.
    It’s all the facts and their contexts, the diversity of our surrounding world, that, at least to me, makes life interesting.
    (I could go on and on about this but will leave it at this .. for now)
    (and btw, numbers are NOT just representations of quantities! They can also represent qualities (IQ), ratios, constants (dimensionless factors) and computational constructs (the square root of -1 is hardly a quantity), to just name a few other uses)

  2. I, of course, totally agree with one of the comments to his post: “If you really want to teach people how to think, teach them computer programing”

    More on the problem I’m having with Scott Adams’s post later.

  3. @Deannie – I agree with you. But I don’t get shocked (or even awed) by what we spend on military R&D. That’s proven useful before, and probably will prove useful again (sorry to say).

    But I AM shocked and awed by how pale the comparative spending is on education R&D. It’s pathetic.

    But in a society that values althletes more than educators, I am hardly surprised.

  4. Memorizing the multiplication tables is meaningless if the student doesn’t understand what numbers are: representations of quantities.

    And why don’t we mention how much this nation spends on the military R&D vs Education. Blah, that is more scary to me. And shocking.

  5. Paul – see this post, by Scott Adams (oddly enough, it was posted just today). He makes my point more clearly that I have.


  6. Well, clearly we are not going to CHANGE ‘teaching’ if we spend half of what Ninentendo spent on R&D, on education research.

    Although, they don’t HAVE to spend that much: all they have to do is simply listen to what I have to say on the subject (but, granted, haven’t done so yet)! But I digress.

    THAT was one of the other nonsense ‘facts’ in the presentation: that what your son learns today is outdated in his 3rd year.
    Nonsense! Gravity will still be as valid by then as it was when I first heard of it! Etc etc.

    Also, while being taught how to learn is VERY important, memorizing ‘facts’ isn’t always a bad idea! I can give many examples of it.
    An example: I was taught 4 foreign languages in (pre) highschool. Thanks to the fact that I was forced to memorize certain things, rather than just understanding the ideas behind the languages … I am able to write this comment!
    (simpler: It’s very simple to make someone understand the tables of multiplication. Without memorizing them, he’d have as much a tough time with “7*8”, as you have with “307 * 788). There are MANY examples like that.

    Uhm…. where was I going with this? .. *sip*

  7. What “scared” me the most (shocked might be a better description) was the amount of information we are generating, and how quickly it becomes obsolete.

    My son enters college this fall – he’s already had to learn a hell of a lot more than I did when I was his age – how do we change teaching so we stop causing kids to memorize facts and instead teach them to learn? Because if they can’t learn, they’ll never have a chance.

    And if they don’t have a chance, society will have to care for them. That’s my nickel being spent there!

  8. While it has some interesting facts, it also has many nonsense items.
    (Like that near future super computer that will exceeed the computational power of the human brain. ??? My $5 Casio calculator already greatly supasses my own brain’s computational power and has done so for decades!
    The brain can do fantastic things. Computation isn’t one of them! (Quick, how much is 307 times 788?). The brain doesn’t have a CPU. (Most of what we perceive as ‘computations’ are highly sophisticated trial-and-error feedback loops.. not something very efficient for doing actual numerical calculations)

    ANYWAY .. which ‘fact’ did you consider the most ‘scary’?
    (I’m also not sure why this all strikes you as ‘scary’).