We are NOT all equal

we are not all equal

I was just walking outside today, wondering about stuff as usual, when an interesting idea came to my mind. Or perhaps it was an interesting memory I remembered.

I was thinking about my early years in school, long time ago. I was thinking about how I was taught Mathematics and what could have gone better. And I remembered one thing: We were all considered to be equal. Now, I realize I risk sounding too condescending, but that’s one thing I strongly disagree with.

This opinion is still considered to be “politically incorrect”, but I find that to be just silly. We live in times, when this “political correctness” is extremely overrated. So much, indeed, that we’d rather face away from the problem, than risk sounding “incorrect”. And that is wrong, and should be changed.

I don’t believe we are equal. I realize some people are much smarter than others. Some are beautiful and good-looking and some just aren’t (although this obviously is a rather subjective quality). There are successful people and there are the living synonyms of failure. That’s just the way it is, and it is natural.

What isn’t natural, however, is the concept of the average. The society seems to have come up with an idea, that an average person is the best person (what is obviously a complete nonsense). And that everybody should be treated as an average person – this surely plays well for the “below-average” people, and the average people are just fine with it. The “above-average” ones however are being slowed down. Which gets me back to my point: Teaching Mathematics.

I was very glad to see prof. Milan Hejný address this problem in a video interview he made (you can view the video in here, it is however in Czech). He admits that kids come to school with different preconditions and different levels of mathematical thinking. And, more importantly, he argues that from the very beginning, these kids should be treated differently. One of the key parts of his teaching method is to always have various problems ready for them, with varying levels of difficulty. Thus, the kids that are ahead of the majority of the class still have their way of developing their intellect, and those who are a little behind still achieve accomplishments, albeit on a lesser level. He also embraces the kids to support each other, aiming to eliminate “aggressively competitive” atmosphere, where no one gets laughed at or bullied because of his performances.

I strongly support an attitude like this, as I can’t really see how slowing the smarter kids down could help them, or in the bigger picture, the society, to evolve. And this certainly doesn’t apply only to Mathematics, but rather to all of education. The first step that needs to be taken though, is to get rid of this fake mask called “political correctness” and admit our differences. Nobody says they are bad. On the contrary, they are natural! 

If it is of any interest to you, be sure to read more about prof. Hejný’s method of teaching, it is certainly worth your time. Also, where do you stand on the discussed issue? Do you think kids in schools should be treated equally, or do you support this “more separative” approach, and why?

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