Lori Falce: Schools teach facts despite beliefs
I don’t believe in math.
People insist to me that math is a real thing. I don’t buy it.
I think math is a conspiracy — a plot against those of us who live our lives in sentences strung out of words rather than equations and numbers. I didn’t get into writing because of the Pythagorean theorem.
But I went to school with a succession of teachers who didn’t care about my personal math atheism.
I learned multiplication tables and fractions. I trudged through decimals and division. Despite my repeated mantra that I don’t do math, I was made not only to take but participate in algebra and geometry and trigonometry. Even in college, I took logic, which was a whole class of math pretending to be words.
Because sometimes what you believe isn’t the point when it comes to education.
William Latson used to be the principal of Spanish River High School in Florida. I am somehow certain that he would have steamrolled my arguments on math, but when it came to educating students about the Holocaust, he threw up his hands and declared defeat.
A parent asked how the school was teaching kids about the historical horror of Nazi Germany’s systematic execution of 6 million Jews. The answer was bleak.
“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” Latson wrote back, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Yes, there are people who deny that the Holocaust happened. That doesn’t mean those people should shape how children are educated.
There are also people who deny the moon landing and those who say the world is flat. There are people who insist the pyramids were built by aliens, that the Titanic didn’t sink and that Jack the Ripper was a British prince.
But facts and ideas are not the same thing. Neither are theories and proof. I learned that, sadly, in a math class.
We send our kids to school to learn facts. How to spell “carnivore,” and what photosynthesis is. Who Betsy Ross was and why we care.
We shouldn’t change the spelling lesson because there are vegans in the world, or the science class because someone is on a keto diet. Sorry, Nike, but just because, to our everlasting shame, we allowed slavery in 1776 doesn’t mean we don’t teach what else happened that year.
And we should teach the Holocaust — what happened and how it happened and America’s role in ending it, because no matter how many people say they don’t believe, there are still tattooed arms that tell the tale.
I may not want to believe in math, but I believe in paychecks and credit scores and there are an appalling number of statistics that go into my work.
Thankfully, a lot of math teachers didn’t care what I believed.
Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].