Weekly Math Updates

November 22, 2007


  • Thanksgiving, the Real Story
  • C.S. Lewis and Screwtape
  • Media Articles

Thanksgiving, the Real Story

Happy Thanksgiving. On this special occasion, there are a lot of things we should all be grateful for. Here's a few on my list this year (besides the personal ones).

  • Good teachers
  • Legislators that care about top notch math
  • John Saxon
  • Singapore, for showing us that all kids can learn math
  • Parents committed to their children's education
  • You, for reading this blog every week and fighting the good fight

To read the real story of Thanksgiving, go to this link for a surprise that has been lost from the history books. I've pasted the final paragraph here, but to understand it, you need to read the short story on this page.


"Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them."

C.S. Lewis and Screwtape

Remember a couple weeks back when I emailed you the link to "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" by C.S. Lewis? I had had someone point out to me the salient portion on education, but in finally reading the whole document this last week I was amazed at Lewis' insight into the topic of democracy (socialism) and couldn't help but think that Lewis was a very inspired man. You really need to read this entire piece of satire which Lewis himself identified as a as being about the American education system.


Here's a couple great clips from it on the topic of Democracy and its effects on society and individuals. It ties in perfectly with the story of Thanksgiving above.

"Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won't. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle's question: whether "democratic behaviour" means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.

You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.

The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I'm as good as you."


"What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence – moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how “democracy” (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them “tyrants” then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of grain, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, “democracy.” But now “democracy” can do the same work without any tyranny other than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks."

Media Articles

Visiting official: Alpine district 'not in touch with people'

Amen, and amen.

3 Alpine teachers vying for award
Juice, maps help them illustrate math concepts
Deseret News Link

This is one of those articles that will make your head hurt. Junior High students got a real life lesson in math.

"After sampling each orange juice mix, they concluded that ones with higher percentages of concentrate tasted more 'orangey.' "

<sarcasm>No, really? I guess the local schools are just preparing our kids to cut out Dixie cups when they get to BYU's math educators version of calculus.</sarcasm> Now these teachers (math educators) are up for major awards by the National Science Foundation, the organization that called Investigations math and a dozen other fuzzy programs "promising and exemplary". This is why we have problems in our education system. The NSF is not our friend and they have done great harm to our country. Their title gives them credibility and now in handing out awards for teachers that follow their fuzzy footsteps, they give legitimacy to illegitimate programs.

Parents Speak out for Math Basics

A short article with this all too familiar sounding story:

"Many parents also complained that schools had "cozied" them along by sending home A+ report cards in math. In truth, the students had learned to jump through a few hoops, but not to perform simple arithmetic operations. One St. Louis mother, for example, tried to enroll her 7th-grader in an honors math class, since her daughter had straight A's in math. "The coordinator stated our daughter was not honors material. I was shocked!" The student had scored only 37% on a standardized math test. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9-7-07)"

It Works for Me: An Exploration of “Traditional Math” Part 1 by Barry Garelick

A nice article illustrating why the phrase "research shows" should never escape an educrats' lips.

Honor a Veteran, Read the Constitution by Ken Cromar

Ken Cromar is a good friend and has been with us on the math fight for a long time. He recently wrote this article which is a tribute to our Founding Fathers and discusses the BYU "Year of the Constitution" effort where they have been passing out pocket constitutions and copies of the DVD, "A More Perfect Union." Thousands of copies of these materials were taken by students along with signing a pledge to read the constitution. In light of the destruction of the concept of a Republic for the false notion that we are a Democracy, it would be wonderful to see this event replicated at all colleges to help students get back to the basics of what laws govern our country.



Oak Norton

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