Posts Tagged ‘math’

Hayek on Math and Totalitarian Control

I was sent an email this morning by someone reading FA Hayek’s book, “The Road to Serfdom” and she shared this bit knowing my interest in math education.

“Totalitarian control of opinion extends, however, also to subjects which at first seem to have no political significance…In particular, they [totalitarians] all seem to have in common an intense dislike of the more abstract forms of thought – a dislike characteristically also shown by many of the collectivists among our [England’s] scientists. Whether the theory of relativity is represented as a ‘Semitic attack on the foundation of Christian and Nordic physics’ or opposed because it is ‘in conflict with dialectical materialism and Marxist dogma’ comes very much to the same thing. Nor does it make much difference whether certain theorems of mathematical statistics are attacked because they ‘form part of the class struggle on the ideological frontier and are a product of the historical role of mathematics as a servant of the bourgeoisie,’ or whether the whole subject is condemned because ‘it provides no guaranty that it will serve the interest of the people.’ It seems that pure mathematics is no less a victim and that even the holding of particular views about the nature of continuity can be ascribed to ‘bourgeois prejudices.’ According to the [Fabian] Webbs, the Journal for Marxist-Leninist Natural Sciences has the following slogans: ‘We stand for Party in Mathematics. We stand for the purity of Marxist-Leninist theory in surgery.’…It is entirely in keeping with the whole spirit of totalitarianism that it condemns any human activity done for its own sake and without ulterior purpose. Science for science’s sake, art for art’s sake, are equally abhorrent to the Nazis, our socialist intellectuals, and the communists. Every activity must derive its justification from a conscious social purpose…” p. 177

Now compare that with what Alpine School District had posted on their Mission Statement web page just a few months ago before taking it down from the controversy it created.

“According to Webster’s Dictionary, democracy is defined as a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. Our current government is best symbolized as a representative democracy.

The primary purpose of education is developing democratic citizens.

This preparation is not a matter of chance nor is it a matter of giving our pupils a few lessons in civics or teaching them about the Constitution.

It requires the development of a democratic character: fostering the growth of traits such as responsible conduct, critical reflection, compassion and integrity.

Thus, the task of readying the young for democratic life is the business of all educators.

Along with our social studies and history teachers, others must incorporate this objective into their curriculum.

Math teachers must help students gain a respect for inductive proof and certainty in argumentation.

The music teachers could help students gain a sense of responsibility to the group and playing in harmony with other citizens. Our English teachers should teach the responsibilities of expression and choice.

Of course, our administrators ought to help students understand that a democratic society cannot survive without respect for rules, law, and order.

Every teacher should have this major board objective in mind as he/she prepares the curriculum.

Parents, too, ought to incorporate these objectives into their family’s environment.

An interesting parallel… Progressives want control of every aspect of our lives and want everyone to participate in it.