Friday, August 03, 2007

Well, it could happen...

I see here that the US has apparently withdrawn from the TIMSS programme, which is an international study designed to allow comparisons between the relative mathematical abilities of students in different countries around the world. (This also allows newspapers to print stories about how poorly Scotland is doing compared to England, or the other way about, according to our positions in the "league table".)

Interesting. Is the US withdrawing to spend the money more usefully elsewhere, or is the government scared of the negative publicity which may ensue if such data does become available and is less than flattering? Discuss.

Meanwhile, surely there's a better way to compare countries: why don't we just make our political leaders sit the tests for us instead? Just imagine that press conference...

Question: what is 37 times 23?

Response from George W Bush (US): You know, I’m getting’ kinda tired of being asked this question all the time. People keep askin’ me, what’s 37 times 23? When will you finally give an answer? And all I can say is, I refuse to set terms and conditions on what 37 times 23 is, or to give a deadline for that solution. I mean, if I give what’s meant to be some kinda definitive answer, that’s just gonna embolden the enemy. But we’re workin’ on this. You gotta trust me on this one.

Response from Gordon Brown (UK): I'm happy to announce that under a Labour government, 37 times 23 is much more than it ever was under the Conservatives.

Question: differentiate sine x with respect to x

Response from George W Bush (US): Now I'm no expert on math, but I believe we do need to show respect to x. I believe all letters should be respected, not just x, but also y, and zee, and... um... all the the other letters, alphabetically speaking. And as for this business of sinex, well, let me be clear that we do need to differentiate on this matter, 'cos if we do nothing about sinexes then we just end up emboldening the nasal passages. And that's just what the enemy wants. So I'm calling on Congress to support our troops and join with me in this battle on terror. We need to differentiate the sinexes and smoke 'em out.

Response from Gordon Brown (UK): It's important, I believe, to identify the role of the United Nations in ensuring differentiation, according to the Newton/Leibniz protocol originally agreed in 1673. It would be easy to give an answer to this question of how we differentiate sine x, but we have to be able to meet this answer within the context of financial jurisprudence, which is why...

(That's enough politico-mathematical satire - Ed.)



8 comments:

Tony said...

Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh. And I suspect we withdrew from TIMSS so that Bush could continue celebrating how effective his education reform is going, despite all evidence to the contrary.

maths teacher said...

No child left behind, right? How's that going these days?

Tony said...

It was a well-intentioned scheme designed and implemented by morons and underfunded from day one. If that was the plan, then it's going spectacularly.

maths teacher said...

Wow - you have these types of plans too? Nice to see we have a transatlantic approach to educational policy - way too important to leave to the professionals.

TRB4 Man said...

I thought i was right there, listening to Bush and Brown. Spooky! So now i know how easily Bush deals with a press conference. Each time he gives the same answers. Just substitutes a few different words to make it "relevant" to the question.

beans said...

Haha- great stuff! Like trb4man said, it felt like the words were coming right out of Bush and Brown! BTW- you'd have to give me half a day or so, to answer 37 x 23!

maths teacher said...

Fair point, beans - but I can exclusively reveal that both Brown and Bush did have pencil and paper at the podium and so should have been able to take a stab at the long multiplication. (In fact, Bush also had secret access to a Texas TI-83 calculator, but he thought it was the remote for the TV.)

beans said...

Ah, well then shame on them! I'd be able to do it with pen and paper, but mental maths is where I went wrong. I'm not surprised that Bush thought it was the TV remote. Maybe if it had been a Casio calculator, he wouldn't have made the same mistake. ;)

\my did at Texas calculators. :D