Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Links of Interest: Cultural Appropriation, the Tao, and Math Education Myths

I'm going to be busy with this particular book today, so please enjoy the links I share below!

All Cultures Are Mine, David Marcus, The Federalist

"Nobody gets upset when Yo-Yo Ma plays the hell out of Bach. Nobody asks him to pay homage or royalties to white culture. As a result, white culture is open to everyone. It is the cultural lingua franca that binds together Americans’ understanding of the world.

The proponents of privilege theory and the concept of cultural appropriation seek to decentralize whiteness but, ironically, they are doing precisely the opposite. They are guaranteeing the central role that white culture plays by insisting it is the only culture that belongs to all of us. The price of this proprietary power play is steep. It encourages division and denies all of us the full flower of our shared human cultural history."

I couldn't agree more. Why are SJW's so eager to bring back racial segregation?

Life, Carbon, and the Tao, Tom Simon, Superversive SF

"In effect, the ruling classes of Westeros, and many others like them in recent fantasy, are crime syndicates in a world without law. But it is the law that makes the crime possible. The vast majority of the people need the Tao to do business with one another, and to make the whole society function. Part of that function is enforcing the Tao through laws, and resolving disputes between people when reciprocity breaks down. This is not a function that we ever see the epic gangsters performing. They are too busy planning murders and rebellions. Real criminal gangs are only able to function because someone else does the hard work of holding society together. They never exist as a ruling class; and when they do temporarily become rulers, as with the Barbary pirates of the eighteenth century, or the Somali warlords of our own time, the society breaks down, the people perish, and the profits of crime disappear. Without the Tao, there is no trust between people; without trust, nobody can work and create wealth; and without wealth, there is nobody for the criminals to rob."

A powerful critique of grimdark fantasy. As Glenn Reynolds might say, read the whole thing.

The Myth of "I'm Bad at Math", Miles Kimball & Noah Smith, The Atlantic

"Is math ability genetic? Sure, to some degree. Terence Tao, UCLA’s famous virtuoso mathematician, publishes dozens of papers in top journals every year, and is sought out by researchers around the world to help with the hardest parts of their theories. Essentially none of us could ever be as good at math as Terence Tao, no matter how hard we tried or how well we were taught. But here’s the thing: We don’t have to! For high-school math, inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence."

Yes: Average students can learn algebra. It does require a firm foundation in arithmetic that many of my students do not possess, but the correct response to this difficulty is to fix the gaps in their elementary education -- not to remove algebra from the high school curriculum entirely.

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