I like a good debate. Anyone who has ever read my blog knows that I can think about, and discuss virtually anything. Call it my superpower. Call it a blessing and a curse. Whatever. I am always available to talk about how there is no right answer to anything: how there can be a whole bunch of possible answers to any question, even about trivial things like “are tv shows mean?”. How the world is 95% grey…
Today, all of you out there get to see me contradict myself. You are about to see me admit that some things do have a right and wrong answer. Here’s where you get to say that I’m a hypocrite, that I don’t know anything, whatever you want to say to me to tell me that I am/was wrong…
Ready? I know some of you are chomping at the bit to call me some names…
Recently, the Oregon DOE (department of education) sent out an email discussing teacher training re: math. This is standard. Teachers are constantly receiving additional instruction on how to best reach their students. The suggested course of study was this website:
For the purposes of this particular post, I will be focusing on one section of this guide. “The focus is on getting the right answer.”
“The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so. Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.”
I’m waiting… I mean, I can give more examples to discuss….
Now, theoretically, I know that we can say that two plus two does not equal four. I get that. Theoretically….
But practically speaking…
Are there certain constructs of mathematics that clearly have “right” and “wrong” answers?
If I hand someone $5 in a single bill for an item that is $4.90, is there discussion as to whether I get ten cents back? Should I argue that I should get back a dollar because the item I’m buying is overpriced? Should the cashier tell me that I don’t get back any money, or that I actually owe them more?
Do you want your accountant to miscalculate how much money you owe, or are owed? Or would you rather have a discussion, also known as an audit?
If you are flying in a plane, or sitting in your house, do you want the people that have worked on these things to have done the math correctly?
After a roof collapses on you due to faulting measurement, do you want to have a conversation about whether or not the math was correct?
Do you want to take a vaccine that hasn’t been measured out to be the proper dosage? Do you negotiate with the nurse as to how much should be in the vial?
Do we need to sometimes accept that there are indeed things that have right and wrong answers?
Is it fair to teach children that “right” answers don’t exist?
Let’s extrapolate. You believe in climate change. You are talking to someone that does not. You are conversing about this because there are no right answers- only theory. When you say to them “But it’s science…” and they respond “There are no right answers…” what do you think about that person?
How about masks. The idea of whether or not masks are necessary (as the CDC now says that we should be wearing two masks…) has been a hotly debated topic for the past year. Do you think there is a right or wrong answer to this question? Theoretically as well as practically.
What do you think about telling kids that there are no right and wrong answers when it comes to math?
Do you believe that there are right and wrong answers to things, or is everything open to discussion?