Sunday, July 26, 2015

Education policy post 1

(Creative title, I know)

We need to reform how we teach high school. As I was going for a walk today I was thinking about how to learn effectively and how I have found mathematics to be the most important subject in my education in terms of the tools it has given me. All of the most important tools I have learned in political economy are ultimately mathematical. From these tools comes the rest of the work I do and it allows me to understand fields I have never studied intensely because I understand the underlying logic of what they are arguing.

A big issue for me through school was making sure I got enough math to continue to the next step in my education so I can get to where I need to go. This was extremely frustrating for me, and left me without the mathematical tools I needed to continue my science education.

But what about English? As I was thinking about this today on my daily walk the books we were reading in English had large philosophical backdrops to them which were barely covered in school. The process of effectively writing is used in every class, and should be integrated as such. When it comes to literature however, they are based deeply in philosophy. I think while teaching such subjects we should introduce students to the major schools of thought so they can start to put the pieces together and understand what other books these authors were reading so that students can make the connection between the different books and time periods. The other subject literature comes from is history. If one is reading a books based in a time and place, there are probably political overtones to it, and in order to pick those up one needs to understand what was happening in that time and place. Reading books from Latin America is all well and good (we read a few in my IB English class) but doesn't do any good if you are not at the same time learning about the history of that region. I didn't take the history class at the same time, but feel like if I had taken it I would have understood the books a lot more, like the year before when history and English went through the same events at the same time.

To fully understand the books I think it would be useful to read them in chronological order and talk about the schools of thought as they evolve in conjunction with history class since literature is so based on history which helps readers see the trends underlying the books we are reading, since in high school this is all new information to most students.

So, literature is based off of history and philosophy and in order to fully understand the literature one must understand the history. Now, to understand history at a deeper level one must understand the political and economic forces underlying those classes. To fully understand this one would then need to understand some basic political science and economics. The political science would cover basic political theory (which starts with the same philosophers as one would use to understand the underlying themes in literature), American government (which we already do to a point), international relations (so one can understand war and why they occur), along with comparative politics (so one can actually understand what was happening on Britain's side of the American Revolution or how Germany fell into the Third Reich) are the four fundamental bases to political science and would greatly supplement the studying of history and increase understanding of what is happening.

Economics as well is necessary, and would not take a lot of time to cover the basic underlying principles such as supply and demand, elasticity, monopoly, oligopoly, perfect competition, and GDP among others. This of course would be done throughout the year and would help students understand the evolution of economic history and history as a whole because economics is such a fundamental part of society and how we live day to day.

And the really beautiful thing about this is in order to fully understand what economics is and do the problems in a way so that you can apply them to history you need to understand mathematics. This is one of the primary reasons why if a middle schooler asked me for advice about their education I would say to make certain they learn their mathematics at as high a level as possible because practically everything else they will ever study will ultimately be ultimately based on mathematics.

This is why I think of mathematics is the fundamental building block to most of our education. In order to understand literature you need to understand history and philosophy. In order to understand history you need to understand economics. A great deal of philosophy has to do with economics. In order to understand economics you need to understand mathematics. The patterns in music and art can be represented using mathematics which show the patterns which we perceive as beauty. The only fundamental part of a well rounded education that does not revolve around mathematics is learning foreign languages.

Mathematics truly is the language of the universe.

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