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Monday, February 29, 2016

YOU MAY FORGET WHAT YOU LEARN JUST DON'T FORGET HOW TO THINK

YOU MAY FORGET WHAT YOU LEARN JUST DON'T FORGET HOW TO THINK
A re-run from 2013



At my age I have forgotten way more than I have ever learned and I think the ratio of forgotten to learned is increasing. 


Why do we need to learn stuff that we probably will never use?  This is a question I ask myself today especially with regards to new technology.  It is a question virtually every teenager asks his parents while struggling with plain geometry, physics or Spanish 1. 


The standard parental answer is


1.    You don’t know yet what you will need to know at your age.


2.    Learning these things teaches you how to think.


Both of these answers will not register with your teenager.


My son played baseball in high school.  The field they played on was a perfect square.  It was 300 feet down each foul line and therefore 300 feet from either foul pole to dead center field.  The distance to centerfield was listed as 350 feet.  Many a long fly ball to dead center failed to reach the fence.  The players on the team were convinced dead center was deeper than 350 feet.  The coach said no.


When my son mentioned this to me my immediate response was,
I thought you said you would never use anything you learned in geometry.”


“Huh”


“Draw a line from home plate to center field.  You have a right triangle.  The distance down the right field line (a) is 300 feet.  The distance from the right field foul pole to dead center (b) is the same as the distance from home to the left field foul pole 300 feet.  The distance of the line from home to dead center (c) can be determined by that formula you thought you would never use: a2 + b2 = c2.  So 90000 + 90000 = 180000 and the square root of 180000 is about 424 feet.  Tell your coach the distance to dead center based on the formula a2 + b2 = c2.” is 424 feet not 350 feet.”


The next day I asked my son
“Is the coach going to change the center field marker to 424 feet?”


“Nope.”


“Why not?”


“He says he don’t care about no a2 + b2 = c2.  If the sign says it is 350 feet to dead center then it is 350 feet to dead center.”


“Well” I told him, “Now in addition to finding out that you can actually use what you learn in school, your coach has demonstrated why it is also important to  learn how to think.”     

14 comments:

  1. Thinking--I'll have to try that!!

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  2. I was told to learn stuff because I wouldn't pass the exams if I didn't. Seemed like a good enough reason to me.

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  3. Knowing how to learn can save a lot of trouble.

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  4. my dusty brain just took your word for that calculation.

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  5. But if EVERYONE were to actually THINK, who would say all those dumb things that make Facebook Facebook? I say ignorant people are important, too. ;)

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  6. I love this. Just because you're a teacher doesn't mean you know anything.

    Hubby does all kinds of math to this day to allow him to think.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  7. School is all one big "think-tank."It is such a wonderful thing to be
    able to think for ourselvesl

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  8. I love dumbass coaches. . . Sheesh, give the kid a freakin' tape measure, and show the coach what's real. . .

    This is part of why I became an engineer - so I could do actual math problems, and get paid for it. . . ;)

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  9. What i learned is that math can be fun, but i'm still not good enough at it to get paid to do it for a living.

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  10. I am totally trusting your deductions. Calculators and Google are taking all the fun out of thinking.

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  11. Math was my worst subject in school. Thank God for calculators.

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  12. In one of my son's classrooms was a big poster with the words: Why you should get an education:

    And underneath that line was a picture of a 7-car garage filled with Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, BMWs, etc.

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  13. Your son played baseball on a square? Couldn't the school afford...wait for it...A DIAMOND? That's my 13-year-old self talking. My 13-year-old self who is quite familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem.

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  14. There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who are good with numbers and those who aren't.
    R

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