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‘Easy math’ should not be the future of our education

‘Easy math’ should not be the future of our education

Posted May. 03, 2018 07:47,   

Updated May. 03, 2018 07:52


In the mystery novel “Dangerous Venus (2017)” by Japanese author Keigo Higashino, there is a savant syndrome patient, who can draw fractal figures like a machine. Fractal geometry, which exhibits a repeating pattern to form the entire structure, is a field of mathematics born in the 1970s. It serves as a foundation of applied research in the fields of architecture, arts, medical science, astronomy and geography. The concept is well-known enough to be used as a material for a novel.

Geometry, which studies the principle of figures through topography and measurement, is one of the oldest disciplines in the history of mankind but study on geometry is still going on. After Euclidean geometry was compiled by Euclid in his textbook in 3 B.C., it was considered as a basic science of learning logic in ancient Greece. Tradition has it that the phrase “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter” was engraved at the door of Plato’s Academy.

The academic circle is protesting against the decision by the South Korean Ministry of Education to eliminate “geometry and vector” from the range of college entrance examination for natural science majors starting from February 2021. The government aims to “relieve students from the burden of private education expenses and studying by removing geometry from the college entrance exam questions.” The scientific community filed a petition in March asking the government to withdraw the decision and the Korean Academy of Science and Technology had a forum Wednesday and criticized the government’s decision, by saying, “It is a nonsense to remove geometry, which is the only subject that helps students develop a sense of logic through spatial concept and multi-dimensional thinking, from the college entrance examination.”

Above all, “easy math” education policy by the Ministry of Education would ultimately hamper Korea’s competitiveness in the era of fourth industrial revolution. In fact, the drone show at the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which filled up the sky with Olympic flag shape, used technology based on geometry. “It is appropriate to approach geometry from the perspective of developing creativity rather than acquiring knowledge,” said Korean Mathematical Society President Lee Hyang-sook. “We should think about ways to teach it more easily to students rather than to remove it just because it is difficult.” Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia included advanced geometry in their college entrance examinations. Our students would begin at a starting line far behind if they cannot acquire advanced learning in high school.