03 July 2005
You know you are in trouble when maths gets political

Sometime ago, I was watching some BBC Educational programme.  It was about education in Nazi Germany and featured a chap called Harry Mettelman who was a schoolboy there at the time.  His parents, who were very much not Nazis, told him never to believe anything that was opinion but that maths was fine.  Little did they know that the Nazis had managed to sneak their propaganda into maths lessons as well.

So, you can guess how I felt when I read this:

In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998 “contemporary mathematics” textbook, Williamson Evers and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics. In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter “F” included “factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal, finite set, formulas, fractions, and functions.” In the 1998 book, the index listed “families (in poverty data), fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study, feeding tours, ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan, flower beds, food, football, Ford Mustang, franchises, and fund-raising carnival.”

Uh oh.

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  1. The 1998 text book is truly shocking. I refer of course to the index reference, “....Ford Mustang….”
    Don’t they realise that cars are of questionable PC, and this US icon is more un-PC than most.


    Posted by John East on 13 July 2005 at 08:53pm

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