Teaching Statistics Is a Double-Edged Sword in Mathematics

They say knowledge is power, but power ought to come with responsibility also. For instance, if you teach someone how to build something, engineer it, and create it, you’d hope they do so for the right reasons. Just as Mr. Miagi from the “Karate Kid” movie refused to take on an apprentice unless they promised on their honor the use of those skills for protection and good, not starting a fight – we must be careful not to teach the wrong things to those not grown up enough to handle it yet. Okay so, let’s talk about mathematics in our schools and the educational value of statistics for a moment, shall we?

One thing that bothers me about the subject of statistics is how so many people in our population are led astray by the facts and figures they hear or read in the media. Perhaps it is true that old quote; “figures lie and liars figure,” and even if you don’t believe that particular quote, or buy into the concept, there is a very good book you might like to read;

“The Craft of Political Research – Sixth Edition,” by W Phillips Shively, Pearson-Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2004, 176 pages, ISBN 0-13-117440-1.

In that book it teaches folks how to carefully manipulate statistics, charts, graphs, and even questionnaire surveys to get the intended answer to help persuade political opinion in your favor. Yes, there is a book for that, there are several, this just happens to be one that I own in my personal library. Although I was appalled as I read it, I can certainly understand why people use such political manipulation, and it seems to explain much of global warming theory actually.

If more people understood the value in teaching statistical mathematics in high school and college, fewer people would be led astray by manipulated data, and therefore, they would be better informed voters, and more skeptical of the information presented. Is my contention that more mathematics of this type should be taught in our schools. Of course, it is also a double-edged sword, as once you teach people statistics, you also are inadvertently teaching them how to do the same sort of manipulation that has been used on them personally.

Perhaps we do need more mathematics in school, and statistics is full of math, and therefore apropos, but it won’t do much good unless we also teach ethics, discipline, and the difference between right and wrong, as obviously some people don’t seem to get it, or even care too. Please consider all this and think on.

The College Education Conspiracy – What They Don’t Want You To Know

Do you believe in conspiracies? Perhaps you don’t think there is a massive UFO cover-up or that Big Foot is secretly being held in an underground bunker however, you do wonder about “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey might say. The rising cost of a college education has always been one of those topics where there seems to be more to the story.

Consider this quote from a college financial aid insider. “You go into massive amounts of debt just to get an education that you need as a prerequisite to get a job. Then you spend the rest of your life paying off that educational debt. There has got to be a better way.”

When I heard this statement it made me stop, think and question everything that I had experienced personally as a high school student approaching college admissions, as a student in college and now as a parent preparing to send my daughter to college.

Once Upon A Time…

It reads almost like a fairytale. We are taught form a very early age that if we desire to have a better quality of life than our parents, we must obtain a college degree. Try using Google to search the phrase “value of a college degree”. You would not be surprised to learn that most of the results are filled with charts and graphs that describe the earning “potential” of a college graduate compared with that of someone with only a high school diploma. It makes sense doesn’t it? In fact companies announce that to even qualify to work for them you must have at least an Associate’s Degree and most likely a Bachelor’s Degree.

Reality Sets In…

For those of us that are old enough to have experienced life 5 – 15 years after college we understand that the fairytale was only partly true. We were not told that while in most cases we do enjoy a better than income than our undereducated counterparts, we were not fully informed about the true cost of all of the student loan debt it took to fund that college education. We were also not told that while we did get our dream job, it was only after changing careers or industries multiple times. In fact, I wonder if as you read this now, you are currently employed in the field for which you received your college degree.

It Gets Worse…

What’s worse is if you attended a well-known expensive university only to find your self today, working at the same company, in the same position, with other people who attended less expensive schools. This would be bad enough if the story ends here but unfortunately it doesn’t. After all of this you would think that we would have learned from our mistakes but we have not. Without knowing it we now are preparing our children to make this high school to college transition no better prepared than we were.

Selecting Memorable Kindergarten Graduation Quotes

I will share with you a personal experience of the power of kindergarten graduation ceremonies. I was graduating from university when I heard that there were problems with the ceremony. I was worried because I was away from the country and my parent was the only one trying to organize things. What happened next was quite amazing. One of the local priests came along and decided that he was going to lead the prayers and the organization.

He gave what can only be described as a marvelous speech with a ten point program to succeed. I treasured those moments and have kept them on video for my own children to see when I grow up. This gave me insight into the process of trying to created memorable graduation quotes for the kindergarten. I have decided to come up with some tips on what are the best things to do to ensure that you can handle this sensitive issue with the requisite diligence that your child would expect from you.

  • Keep a record of all the quotes that you used for the kindergarten graduation because the child might want to refer back to them when they are grown up or when they are just reminiscing about the occasion. If you destroy these quotes, it is highly unlikely that they will ever be recovered.
  • Tell the child in their own language during the kindergarten graduation what is going on and you might even want to interpret the quotes and comments that have been made. This gives them an immediate appreciation of the situation and when they grow older they can go into the detail.
  • Invite people to the kindergarten graduation who are good communicators particularly when it comes to children. This will pay off in the long run because everyone will understand what is going on. If you invite a very boring speaker then your party will fall flat on its face, causing you damage and destroying the reputation that you may have built. It will also not be a particularly pleasant experience for the children.
  • Be innovative in the way that you research and disseminate the memorable quotations for the kindergarten graduation. One family impressed me with a front hall display with post stick notes that held all the things that people had thought about the event. They also had a guest book which allowed for more formal compliments. Imagine the joy of that child when they grow up and see the history of their kindergarten graduation reflected in the written quotations.
  • Remember that the quotations will also include reflections from all those who participated in the organization and implementation of the kindergarten graduation ceremony. It is therefore fitting that the children themselves are given the opportunity to express their own personal thought about the proceedings. This is what the Montessori system is all about. The occasion belongs to the child and they are stakeholders who must be allowed to express themselves.

You the parent also have a role to play in the creation of the memorable quotes. At a later stage your child might be interested to note your perspective on proceedings.

Waiting For the Rain – Sheila Gordon – Book Review

Before realizing the significance of the name of the story, I thought more appropriate titles might be My Friend, Frikka or, perhaps, War and Peas. Last Tengo in Jo’burg came to mind but was quickly dismissed because of the nature of the original movie. Then, I saw a metaphorical relationship that equated the rain, relief from the drought, to peaceful coexistence of blacks and whites in South Africa so that education for all could be attained. Just as the rain never came, neither has the much desired defeat of apartheid nor equality of education. Not, yet. The story affected me not so much for the reality of the social problem it depicted as for the many quotes that awakened long-dormant memories of the innocence of youth that is adulterated by the unreasonable hatred that grows from unfounded fear based on illogical premises and perpetuated by uninformed ignorance (to use an appropriate redundancy).

I empathized with both Frikkie and Tengo as they innocently frolicked unmindful of the raging social conflicts that exploded in the urban centers. To one another they were equals in all ways, the different color of their skin having as much affect as either one’s dislike of boiled okra. They were two young boys involved in life for the love of it. My own youth was spent, for two months every year, in total isolation from the destructive power of prejudicial conflict. The camp at Boys’ Harbor in East Hampton was secluded and insulated from the mainstream of social lines of demarcation; there, blacks, whites, Chicanos, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews intermingled with total imperviousness to the differences that otherwise would have had us at each other’s throats for no other reason than the fact that we were different. There, we were all the same. I recalled with Ferrant fondness the relationship I had with a young Hispanic boy with whom I lived within a group at a convent in Sparkhill, New York. We were playing cowboys and Indians. At five years old each, we enjoyed the role playing and changed sides as often as the Spring breezes changed directions. During one of our capturing moments, when the Indian wrestled the cowboy to the ground or the cowboy held the Indian at bay with a sneak attack hammerlock, we fell together to the ground still intertwined inseparably. We were exhausted from the play and rested still caught in the entanglement as if in a lover’s erotic embrace. I was on top and looked into the eyes of Fernando Hernandez with a deep love for another human being because he was alive and happy to be with me as I was with him. I often watch puppies and kittens play with the same disregard for their differences as I did for what made Fernando and me different. The fact that we were both human beings was all that really mattered. I still feel that way, but society, as a whole, doesn’t. That is unfortunate.

The contrast of Frikkie’s negative attitude toward school to Tengo’s thirst for knowledge remained constant. It was pleasant to see that Tengo was able to get the opportunity and took advantage of that occasion to the ultimate of his capability. It was likewise sad to see that Frikkie never saw the light, that Tengo’s enthusiasm was not contagious. That scenario may have seemed too ideal and unrealistic for a story that stresses the real world conflicts rather than story book endings. It was not unbelievable that the army would have done for Frikkie what it did nor was it incredible that the chance meeting of Frikkie and Tengo under those direst of circumstances could have happened. It could and many similar chance meetings with more serious consequences have occurred.

How wonderful it would be if all children of reading age had the same hunger for knowledge that Tengo shows throughout the story until his decision to return to the farm. A world of adventure opened for me like windows to the universe when I discovered how I could vicariously experience the wonders of other countries without ever leaving the ghetto of my birthplace.

Need I say more? This theme of the threat by the educated black was hammered mercilessly by Sannie and the oubaas. I do not, however, believe that this is a universally accepted conviction. Education is the key to eliminating prejudicial hatred. Ignorance is the poker that stokes the fires of racism not just against blacks by whites but any minority by any other group that thinks it is superior.

Consider the following concept.

In the black schools and universities, they’re giving us an inferior education — gutter education. Bantu education is designed to make us better slaves. (page 113)

The truth of this presumption may very well have some basis in Africa, but the aim is not to make better slaves as was intimated. That is the kind of fallacy that perpetuates the hate based on fear ideology. There are poor schools in third world countries that try to do the best with what they have and they coexist with far wealthier institutions. But, it is an economic problem, not a social one. Both schools vie with one another for the dollars of the student base. Those who can afford the more prestigious school with the more motivated teachers and more copious supplies do so. The others suffer with less than the best. The motivation is not suppression. It is part of the way of life, a kind of survival of the fittest.

These lines struck a note that reinforces the idea that in our youthful innocence, when we are green like young saplings, we feel no prejudice other than what we learn from others, particularly those from whom we learn — parents and teachers — and our peers who affect us with their experiences and beliefs and infect us with what poisons were unwittingly slipped into their unsuspecting bodies and minds. I saw the relationship of green with innocence immediately and connected the rain, which makes nature green again, to education, which can make the darkness of ignorance light again.

This Catch-22 goes on even now regarding any conflict that involves two sides each of which wants concessions before concord. For example, one faction won’t give up its guns until peace talks begin while the other side won’t begin talks until the guns are surrendered. These are power struggles that will exist in innumerable forms so long as one group has something the other wants and neither will budge until the other sacrifices something of value — like power, possession, or assets. This is a recurrent theme for which there are countless stories, one for each conflict about man versus man, man against god, or man in conflict with society.

There are passages that remind me that when we feel all is lost and we sink into the unfathomable abyss of despair, we can reach out to someone who can make life seem more worthwhile because of his/her existence. Happiness is sharing even unhappiness with another who is willing to understand, be compassionate, and still remain steadfast and loyal to one another. It was disappointing to see Tengo release his tentative grip on someone he cared for because of the fear of falling into a trap that caught someone else. He had a chance to show integrity and strength. Instead, he succumbed to the fear of failure. Well, we all have our Achilles heels.

Everyone pays for prejudice. It is not inherent. It is learned from those from whom we least expect it. Education is a healing remedy, but by the time education can apply its balm, the cancer had already spread its deadly venom too late to cure the unwilling victim.

How to Read Quotes for Maximum Impact

Quotes are a great way to learn from the people who have done something bigger with their lives. Their ability of storing valuable lessons within a couple of words makes them insanely powerful learning resources. The most part of what I’ve learnt comes from quotes. I like them a lot and read them in my spare time to build the foundation of my future.

If you search for quotes on the web, you’ll find a whole lot of them. There are several websites dedicated to quotes and several books too, which are available on Amazon. But do you know that there’s a proper way of reading them? Yes, if you want to truly understand the meanings hidden in those little “word groups” then you should read them in a proper way. And in this article I’m going to explain what that “proper way” is.

You’ll be able to get most out of quotes that you read if you follow the tips given below while reading them:

  1. Read a quote multiple times. That’s right. If a particular quote resonates with your life in any way, read it everyday. Instead of reading once and forgetting the next day keep reading it everyday to stay motivated. If you repeat it often then it can act like affirmation to affect your behavior and mind in a positive way.
  2. Think about it. Once you’ve read a quote, think twice about it to understand its hidden meaning. Think how its meaning resonates with your real life and how you can use it. Smart people often leave a lot of meaning in quotes, so it’s a good idea to search for it.
  3. Print on a piece of paper and keep with you. A few years ago I made a chart of my most favorite quotes, which is hanging on a wall in my room today. You can do the same for you too. If you read quotes on a regular basis like me, chances are higher that sometimes you encounter quotes that strike the chord of your mind. They seem to have more meaning in comparison to others. It’s a great idea to take a look on such quotes daily, and the easiest way to get that ‘daily look’ is to print them on a paper and keep on a place where your eyes go daily. It may be your work desk, or a wall in your room.
  4. Use for inspiration. Some quotes which truly inspire you can be used as a source of inspiration whenever you feel bad in your life. So keep them in an easily reachable place and use them as a source of inspiration in bad times.