Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Damn Ignorant Educators!

My kids are watching their favorite PBS program, Cyberchase. It's a math program, and it rather gets under my skin because it's so obviously keyed to the NCTM Standards, of which I am not a fan. After every transparent exercise in mathematics, they might as well have the characters say "... just like it says in the NCTM Standards, on page x." But I'm willing to overlook that because it appears to be of educational value to my kids.

However, today's program is really ticking me off for some reason (which, naturally, has nothing to do with the fact that I'm already in a pissed-off mood today). Today's program kicked off with a dialogue about the essentialness of zero. Zero's essentialness is undisputed by me. However, the program is portraying zero as absolutely essential to the ability to represent numbers, tell time, and measure things. Obviously whoever wrote that script is ignorant of the fact that people represented numbers, told time, and measured things before the invention of zero. Zero does play a critical role in the way we do these things, but it is not essential for these basic tasks. Slips like these betray a humungus ignorance of mathematics and math history on the part of our educators.