The final bell rings heralding the beginning of a brand new school year. It is your first day of 8th grade math, and you have no idea what to expect. After a brief introduction from your teacher, he wastes no time and jumps right in. In large red marker he writes the following on the whiteboard:
“Know that there are numbers that are not rational, and approximate them by rational numbers.”
I know what you are all thinking: this sounds like a basic mathematical principle but there is obviously a hidden racist, atheist, communist, or liberal agenda at play here. I suppose that depends on who you ask, but I am not sure I believe it. My anonymous Anti-core friend “L” will tell you this:
Or as longtime educational and political commentator “Gary” prophetically warns:
However, I am just not convinced. To be fair, I haven’t sacrificed years of precious time pouring over the “facts” and studying every facet of pedagogical theory like Professor Oak Norton of the prestigious UACC.
I mean, have you read his 3 part dissertation on the damaging effects constructivism can have on children’s brains? I tried to look up the word “constructivism“from a less biased source, but alas, there were too many big words on the Wikipedia page, and frankly, Oak broke it down better.
Obviously anyone who can even spell “totalitarianism” and “Prussia” knows their stuff. And who am I to argue? One time I tried to argue with a Flat-Earther, but was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of evidence that existed proving the earth was flat. Eventually I was forced to come to the same conclusion. Just look at this picture and try to tell me it doesn’t make you question everything you know:
But if you, like me, are still somehow unconvinced that the math standard I quoted at the beginning isn’t a satanic message when read backwards, let me offer an alternative. An alternative that is slightly more believable and may even contain a hidden moral.
I think it’s a metaphor.
Now before you go off accusing me of trying to indoctrinate anybody, just hear me out. In life we meet a lot of irrational people, and chances are we end up having to deal with them. Like numbers, it can be difficult at first to distinguish irrational ones from their rational counterparts. However, there are a few tests you can perform to help you know the difference.
For example, if you read something that states teaching a child why 5 times 5 equals 25 is analogous to complete and total “anarchy,” you might be dealing with an irrational person. Or, if after this person tells you that after “sniffing around” math and reading standards for a while their instincts prompted them to not only devote their entire life to getting to the bottom of a gigantic conspiracy, but aggressively tear down anyone who disagrees with them along the way… you might be dealing with an irrational person (or just Jim Carey’s character from the movie “The Number 23”
Once you realize who you are dealing with, the rest becomes easy. It’s like learning how to multiply fractions for the first time: once you have the rule down, you just apply it to subsequent problems. If a fellow parent in your neighborhood tells you that large amounts of data are being “mined” from your 3rd grader’s math tests and stored in Bill Gates’ personal vault deep beneath Washington D.C., or a political candidate promises to end the tyrannical reign of a constitutionally elected educational governing body by putting his foot down, stop and ask yourself: “am I dealing with an irrational person?” If you can affirmatively answer that question with even an ounce of certainty, it’s probably wise to make the rational choice of steering clear.
That’s really all there is to it. Stop. Recognize. Repeat. It’s a simple lesson from an even simpler standard. Maybe that secret agenda isn’t so bad after all.