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The Innumeracy of Educators, or Mark Twain Was Right

Chad Orzel has some examples of the types of math questions that Orange County school board member Rick Roach couldn’t answer on a standardized test. It’s crazy how simple those questions are, and that Rick Roach couldn’t get any of them correct without guessing is embarrassing.

Writes Chad:

This is yet another demonstration of a problem I’ve been banging on about for years: the innumeracy of intellectuals. Mr. Roach holds three college degrees, and clearly considers himself an educated person, but even a lack of practice at taking tests can’t really explain this level of failure.

The problem is, having horribly flubbed a really basic math test doesn’t shake Mr. Roach’s self-image as an educated person, because it is socially acceptable for an “educated person” to know next to nothing about math. Where in a sane world, complaining that this sort of math is hopelessly impractical and not the sort of thing we should be testing would lead educated people to point at Mr. Roach and laugh (as I’m doing above), In this world, alas, it gets him the central role in sympathetic blog articles hosted by one of the nation’s premier newspapers.

If you can’t do arithmetic and basic algebra, I’m sorry, you are not educated, the same way that you wouldn’t be educated if you couldn’t read and write.