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Old 06-10-2002, 02:23 PM   #1
DeSoya
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Join Date: March 27, 2002
Location: Boulder, CO
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So this news op showed up in the local paper today
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drm...193455,00.html

It's all about the lack of science/math/engineering students. My question is: Where are they all going and why?

My first answer is that they are all going to disciplines such as computer science, business and some of the "soft sciences" such as Psychology and Sociology (You know, the classes whose books always take the first chapter to convince you that they are indeed a science ). Also associates degree schools (is that the right term?) such as DeVry are taking students and giving them technical degrees instead of real 'thinking' degrees, which further limits innovations in the science fields. In essence it's as if we, through economic driven specialization (into the computer based fields), are limiting scientific creativity. Or maybe it all starts at the grade schools with bad teachers. Since I was thinking about maybe becoming an educator (a math teacher to be exact) I find this second idea rather worrisome. What does IW think?

DeSoya
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Old 06-10-2002, 02:34 PM   #2
Attalus
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Hi, DeSoya. Like your sig, BTW. I think that because right now computer science is where the jobs are is creaing imbalances. This should correct itself. But don't worry, momentous discoveries are made by individual geniuses, not by an army of mediocrities. When someone has a gift like that, the problem is keeping them from doing too much, not coaxing them.
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Old 06-10-2002, 03:09 PM   #3
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I am right here!
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Old 06-10-2002, 03:44 PM   #4
Beaumanoir
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I'm Pretty Sure Avy Is Doing Engineering... But Mainly, I'd Say The Lack Is Because Maths Is As Boring As Hell... [img]tongue.gif[/img]
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Old 06-10-2002, 03:48 PM   #5
Sazerac
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beaumanoir:
I'm Pretty Sure Avy Is Doing Engineering... But Mainly, I'd Say The Lack Is Because Maths Is As Boring As Hell... [img]tongue.gif[/img]
If math is boring, it's because it's the teacher that makes it so, and not the subject itself, I can assure you. Math is one of the most fascinating and artistic of all the sciences. [img]smile.gif[/img]

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Old 06-10-2002, 04:48 PM   #6
Azred
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beaumanoir:
I'm Pretty Sure Avy Is Doing Engineering... But Mainly, I'd Say The Lack Is Because Maths Is As Boring As Hell... [img]tongue.gif[/img]
I must respectfully disagree! Sazerac is right in the math is boring only if the instructor makes it so. I have a math degree and have been a math instructor; I can assure you that neither I nor my students found math to be boring. [img]graemlins/petard.gif[/img]

DeSoya, I know what you mean. The projections for hard science students and teachers looks fairly dismal, espcecially for the "school age" teachers (elementary, middle, junior, and senior high); university professors fare not much better.
If you want to be really scared, look at the projections for the number of trained pharmacy techs and licensed pharmacists. Spooky.
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Old 06-10-2002, 06:41 PM   #7
DeSoya
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In an article I read recently a UC Berkely professor likened math to poetry or art. He said that math was an extremely creative process. Having just started doing proofs (not geometry proofs but real math proofs) I understand a bit of what he means. It's really pretty hard to figure things out sometimes. A proof can take a great deal of cleverness.
In response to anyone who thinks math is boring I would say that you should read "A Tour of The Calculus" by David Berlinski. It's an interesting book written about one of the most mind bendingly amazing inventions in human history. Most of all it shows that math is anything but boring. Just think of where we would be without fractions. How else could we talk about getting half-way to somewhere?
My fear is that with money being the over-riding principle behind schooling, areas such as theoretical math, poetry and fiction writing, classics and music will begin to die out or become so specialized as to have no meaning to culture what so ever. With so many people turning to computers as a percieved way to get up and out of their current situation we lose many people who might become those aforementioned geniuses. Not that I'm trying to scapegoat computers. I just think that so often something; like a computer, car or cell phone, becomes a percived necessity when it is anything but. These things are tools but are not seen as such. In as much I feel that they stunt the outgrowth of culture instead of expanding it. This lack of science students is indicative of this.

DeSoya

p.s. Thanks Attalus. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old 06-10-2002, 06:49 PM   #8
Attalus
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[img]smile.gif[/img] You're welcome. I like your haiku, it has s subtle erotic pulse in it. BTW, have you heard the classic toast at University math departments, "Here's to pure mathemaics, may it never be of use to anybody"?
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Old 06-10-2002, 11:35 PM   #9
Azred
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DeSoya, if you think calculus is amazing, just venture further into Number Theory and Topology; there lie some of the more amazing discoveries like the Cantor Set and fractional dimensions.
I agree with you about people turning to computers/electronic devices as a crutch. This one instructor put together a class for Calculator-Based Algebra, which really made me [img]graemlins/5bloodymurder.gif[/img] . Those student are going to learn only how to punch keys, not solve problems. Maybe I'm too old-fashioned, but I was the only student in any of my classes at university who could calculate roots by hand....
Oh, well. Enough ranting.
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Old 06-10-2002, 11:58 PM   #10
DeSoya
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Cantor and set theory can kiss my honky butt.
My problem with them is that every class uses sets but set theory itself is a 4000 level class that I'm recommended not to take. I am, however, taking introduction to topology next semester. I'm doing some prep for Abstract Algebra right now. Group Theory. Woo.

I think that one of the problems is that creativity isn't being engendered in the lower grades. Too many kids who get bored with whatever pap is being taught to them by our, overworked, undertrained educators get diagnosed with ADD and are drugged into submission. Or they just tune things out and aren't prepared to do the science when they get to College. High school doesn't really have the curriculum to prepare someone to go into the sciences. There is the option of taking Advanced Placement or College Prep classes but those fail in two ways. First the AP classes mostly teach you how to take the test. And college prep doesn't really have anything to do with college work. Certainly you could introduce topics that might be covered in college but a) the class will never move as quickly and b) the environment in college is totally different (and I'm not talking about dorm living). No professor will chase after you the way a high school teacher will. In essence we are ruining it all early. Kids think they want to go into science and, upon reaching college realize that they're going to have to put in a ton of work to pass and graduate. Then they see the business school and change majors. It's all pretty depressing.

DeSoya
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