Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Do the math

Last week of school before our long summer break and time to reward graduating students with various prizes – mainly cheques donated by local or national companies or books from foreign embassies, for example.

Once again I was struck by the striking disparity in these prizes. For decades now, mathematics has clearly been put on a pedestal way above any other high school subject. The best students in mathematics receive a considerable cheque of €1,000, whereas, in comparison, students excelling in their co-operation and people skills in and outside school, or in many foreign languages, get a puny sum of €100 tops.

How revealing of the values of our society. Mathematics and numbers, cost-effectiveness and economic gain rule over softer, humanistic values. I wish that rather than making our students specialize more and more and at an earlier and earlier age, we would start focusing on educating them into more rounded human beings with an appreciation of the arts, a sound philosophical and ethical understanding plus communication and language skills combined with enough cultural sensitivity to be active participants not only in their own countries, but on global arenas as well. Add mathematical and scientific brilliance to that and maybe some of the problems of this world would be approached in brand-new, enlightened and innovative ways.

Photo: Mathematics by Robert Scarth on flickr

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