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“I hate fractions”

July 21, 2010 am31 11:36 am

… “They probably hate you, too. The question is, which one of you will be master.”

Do you recognize the badly paraphrased literary reference?

(inspired by this interesting post about teacher training, with interesting comments)

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. blaw0013 permalink
    July 21, 2010 am31 11:49 am 11:49 am

    My guess:
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
    —Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

    • July 21, 2010 pm31 7:13 pm 7:13 pm

      That’s it. And that was fast.

      When I use it in class (and I do, boy does it come up) I use this as an intellectually useful digression.

      Either we go off and talk about Lewis Carrol – or we talk about dealing head on with the hard topic and defeating it.

  2. blaw0013 permalink
    July 22, 2010 am31 3:02 am 3:02 am

    I have to say it was quite a surprise to come across the quote! I used the banter between Alice & Humpty in a pair of quotes to open my dissertation. I studied HS students who perceived mathematics to be of their own creation. These students Might have been Humpty in this dialogue, replacing “word” with “math.”

    I paired it with a quote from Engels, a contemporary & critic of Marx:

    “Before we can be active in any cause we must make it our own, egoistic cause – and that in this sense, quite aside from any material expectations, we are communists in virtue of our egoism, that out of egoism we want to be human beings and not merely individuals.”
    —Frederick Engels

    Maybe you can slide that one in for another intellectually useful “tangent” (just call it a tangent, & its OK in math class, right?)

    • July 22, 2010 pm31 11:06 pm 11:06 pm

      I don’t know about Engels (did he once say “Freedom is the Recognition of Necessity”? I think I saw that as the opening to a chapter in a chemistry book on free electrons)

      But I already use more Lewis Carroll in school, albeit not in an unanticipated way. I teach a logic elective for juniors and seniors (equivalent of a one term intro course) and my text uses Carroll’s examples of sorites. They are still cute:

      From:
      No ducks waltz
      No officers ever decline to waltz
      All my poultry are ducks
      Demonstrate that the following is a valid conclusion:
      My poultry are not officers.

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