Fuzzy Math: Fuzzy Thinking
From the NY Times, an article "As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics" about rethinking the teaching of "fuzzy math" in American schools.
"The changes are being driven by students’ lagging performance on international tests and mathematicians’ warnings that more than a decade of so-called reform math — critics call it fuzzy math — has crippled students with its de-emphasizing of basic drills and memorization in favor of allowing children to find their own ways to solve problems."
Here is an example of how fuzzy math works:
Fuzzy Math Problem: You have a nest with 5 birds. Three birds fly away. Question: How do the other birds feel? Well maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration.
But many parents are concerned. From the NY Times article:
“When my oldest child, an A-plus stellar student, was in sixth grade, I realized he had no idea, no idea at all, how to do long division,” Ms. Backman said, “so I went to school and talked to the teacher, who said, ‘We don’t teach long division; it stifles their creativity.’ ”
The biggest advantage of learning and mastering the basics of math or writing at an early age: You have an advantage over your entire lifetime, because once you learn math/writing basics, you NEVER forget them. If you don't learn the basics of math and writing in grade school, it becomes increasingly hard to learn them later in life - the bad habits of poor math and writing skills become ingrained and well-established, and it is difficult to have to re-learn math and writing basics.
Poor math and writing skills are also consistent with poor thinking and poor reasoning skills. As Milton Friedman said: "Sloppy writing reflects sloppy thinking." Perry's corollary would be "Clear and careful writing reflects clear and careful thinking." And I would also say: "Fuzzy math promotes fuzzy thinking."