Math and culture


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Presentation to HS students on math and enculturation.

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Math and culture

  1. 1. e World: e View thHow W And Why We Should Find Other Views R. Redekopp, U of Manitoba
  2. 2. And the Survey Says: The first question is: Where did real math begin? Comments can be made at /OldsApril3
  3. 3. Math is NOT a Science It is a philosophical system A system of logic based on assumptions A good system but it directs the way we think
  4. 4. Assumptions andProblems When does 1+ 1 <> 2? When did 1+1 = 2.5? When does 1 = 1.034? When is the shortest distance between two points not a straight line?
  5. 5. Let’s Count! Binary Hexadecimal Vigesimal Who uses this? French has a weird variation of this Mayans and Aztecs did, Yoruba, Africa does, Bhutan does and there are others.
  6. 6. The Gods Must Be Crazy What to look for? A Coke bottle as a technology. Something that can’t be shared Primitive vs civilized – who’s happier? Is ‘time’ really such a great thing? Who works harder?
  7. 7. Survey 2 What is more important, the group or the individual? What assumptions are you making?
  8. 8. Math Problems Why do textbook problems seem irrelevant? Because they are. They (and the math culture) think that you can: Ignore the situation – people and feelings Work with only a tiny part of the problem by itself. Be happy when you solve almost nothing!!!
  9. 9. A lame math joke Three men are in a hot-air balloon.  Soon, they find themselves lost in a canyon somewhere.  One of the three men says, "Ive got an idea.  We can call for help in this canyon and the echo will carry our voices far.” So he leans over the basket and yells out, "Helllloooooo! Where are we?" (They hear the echo several times). 15 minutes later, they hear this echoing voice: "Helllloooooo! Youre lost!!” One of the men says, "That must have been a mathematician.” Puzzled, one of the other men asks, "Why do you say that?” The reply: "For three reasons.  (1) he took a long time to answer, (2) he was absolutely correct, and (3) his answer was absolutely useless."
  10. 10. Math Problems No context – eliminate all factors except one or two. One solution – in 3 minutes or less Other ways of viewing a problem Munir Fasheh – examples from the Middle East
  11. 11. Problem Interpretation Manir Fasheh I came to believe that the main objective of [doing] mathematics (or any other subject) in developing countries, is to doubt, to inquire, to discover, to see alternatives, and, most important of all, to construct new perspectives and convictions. (p. 276) id=10064652&ppg=262
  12. 12. Problem Interpretation Powtoon - v=E2XlhcSK63M
  13. 13. Lying With Statistics Math never lies – if you ignore the assumptions What is deceptive about the next graph?
  14. 14. So that’s the obvious stuff Mathematics carries a bias within it (all those assumptions). It has been built (most recently) by rich, white, male, European/North American, military interests Bias is not bad – but we need to be aware of it!!
  15. 15. Assumptions? Faster is better Efficient is better Progress is inevitable and better Anything can be made into an abstract object Problems are just a bunch of little pieces Emotions are irrelevant
  16. 16. Everything is merely anumber What happens when we ‘number’ or quantify people and animals? Some people think this can be immoral Bible African cattle You
  17. 17. Efficiency• Mass production is better because it is more efficient• Better for who? – Business, farmers, workers, consumers, chemical companies• Efficiency is challenged in the next video
  18. 18. Food, Inc. clip (5:29)• What to watch for:• Math / Numbers say large scale production is better.• This farmer says large scale is inefficient, inhuman, inhumane and just creates bigger problems• Does this influence how we view each other (and other cultures)?
  19. 19. Efficiency• XL Foods• Spinach recall• Turkey recall• Disregard for living things – people and animals
  20. 20. Progress• What is progress? – More stuff? – More free time? – No famines or starvation? – Cleaner environment? – World peace?
  21. 21. Progress• We can’t stop progress• BUT we can re-define it!!!• We need to learn about other points of view and other values• We need to think differently, and we can’t do that without learning new and different things.
  22. 22. Multicultural value• Math origins are in Africa, India and China• The great Greeks (Euclid, Pythagoras) mathematicians studied in Egypt first• The Pyramids, Great Wall and Mayan monuments are not accidents
  23. 23. Multicultural value• We made these little gray houses of logs that you see, and they are square. It is a bad way to live, for there can be no power in a square. You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles and everything tries to be round
  24. 24. Multicultural value• Do more than ‘respect’ other points of view• Find out more about how people relate to each other and the earth• Be prepared to change• Think about what kind of world you want in 30 years