The death of Maths, and learning by rote. 
[Jun. 20th, 200912:29 pm]
Sarah

A fantastic essay giving some great metaphors of the mathematician and lack of math(s) in school math(s)...
"...Many a graduate student has come to grief when they discover, after a decade of being told they were “good at math,” that in fact they have no real mathematical talent and are just very good at following directions. Math is not about following directions, it’s about making new directions..."
"...Yes, the most important of which is that mathematics is an art form done by human beings for pleasure! Alright, yes, it would be nice if people knew a few basic things about numbers and shapes, for instance. But this will never come from rote memorization, drills, lectures, and exercises. You learn things by doing them and you remember what matters to you. We have millions of adults wandering around with “negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac all over 2a” in their heads, and absolutely no idea whatsoever what it means. And the reason is that they were never given the chance to discover or invent such things for themselves. They never had an engaging problem to think about, to be frustrated by, and to create in them the desire for technique or method. They were never told the history of mankind’s relationship with numbers— no ancient Babylonian problem tablets, no Rhind Papyrus, no Liber Abaci, no Ars Magna. More importantly, no chance for them to even get curious about a question; it was answered before they could ask it..."
A bit of background about the author: http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_03_08.html
HTML Version (missing small graphics): http://66.102.1.104/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=cache:j3IgbThHnJEJ:www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf+
PDF with little graphics: http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf 

