Sunday, October 06, 2019

Czech teenagers protested against mathematics

High school students in other countries are obsessed with the climate hysteria. Their Czech counterparts managed to organize about one lukewarm rally in March – these days, they had a much more urgent problem: to fight against the "matura" from mathematics. See a video from their rally on Friday afternoon.

All Czech high schools where students are expected to go to a college – in particular, the liberal arts "gymnasiums" and "lyceums" as well as the commercial-sector or engineering-focused "industrial schools" – are ended with this "test of maturity".

The arrows show a building of the Math-Phys department of the Charles University (maps).

It's a pre-college test that verifies and, if the outcome is good, certifies that the student – who is between 18 and 19 at that time – isn't stupid and may be compatible with a large number of occupations including ones that require some intelligence and knowledge. The subjects have been evolving in time. As you may imagine, mathematics has been a mandatory subject throughout the history because it's the queen of sciences and thinking. My 1992 "maturita" (the most official Czech name) was from Czech, English, mathematics, and physics – physics was optional, I think. A century earlier, Greek and Latin may have been widespread subjects in the exam.

At some moment years ago, after the fall of communism, the mathematics exam was made optional. As the students were increasingly turning into a shallow, vacuous, bullšiting SJW herd of sheep, from an intellectual viewpoint, mathematics was becoming an increasingly unpopular outlier or an exception (among other subjects where it was increasingly sufficient for success to simply babble some ideologically convenient nonsense) and increasingly impossible for them to learn. So the number of the people who were choosing it – instead of a foreign language etc. – was persistently dropping.

Even more recently, there was a bold plan to stop this vicious cycle and reintroduce the mandatory mathematics matura exam from Spring 2022 for all such high schools and from Spring 2021 for gymnasiums and lyceums. This plan will almost certainly be canceled now because the spineless and useless minister of education Mr Plaga has supported the lazy spoiled brats. "We can't teach mathematics well now so almost everyone would fail and it would be horrible," he argues.

Meanwhile, the spoiled brats add another "argument": it's not entertaining for them to learn mathematics. The leader of the anti-mathematics movement, a full-blown Czech boy named Mr Reinhard Scheisserei or a similar name, was asked whether their ignorance of mathematics won't be a problem for them. "We won't need any damn mathematics," he answered, "all the high school students in Prague want to become sweepers of George Soros' aß". It's because "they just saw it on YouTube that it's an even better job than the occupation of a YouTuber".

"Don't you need some mathematics even when you sweep George Soros' aß?" the TV interviewer investigated. "No. When Soros wants it 6 more times i.e. five more times, he just says again-again-again." OK, I have improved the leader's name and his conversation with the interviewer a little bit but the real discussions sound almost identical to me. A bunch of spoiled brats are saying outrageous things proving their incredible stupidity and laziness – and TV hosts and ministers who not only fail to spank them but who seem to encourage them.

Needless to say, all these comments that "mathematics isn't being taught well" etc., while increasingly true, are primarily lame excuses that make the vicious cycle worse. The body of mathematics teachers is getting worse because mainly the generation of the "young current mathematics teachers" has already been under-educated in subjects that matter so they're not very good – and it will get even worse if the nation will have to find mathematics teachers from the generation of the current teenagers who prefer to protest in the streets.

But more importantly, the very idea that the subjects and exams at the high school should be determined merely by "what is fun for the teenagers" is just plain insane. These are "innocent kids" who have no idea about what is important and they may only choose from some possibilities that were prepared by some "adults in the room" to make sense. And students must do many things that aren't fun for them – it's also true in life in general. Don't get me wrong: it's good and rational when people feel the internal pressure to do things that are fun for them, and they should try to maximize those, but that rule can't be absolute and people in a healthy society simply have to occasionally do things that aren't fun for them. When the co-existence of the people is sane and constructive for the whole, it's the pressure from the other people that guarantees that you sometimes do things that aren't fun.

The Friday afternoon rally (several thousand teenagers) took place at the Lesser Town square – see the picture at the top – the pretty suburb in downtown Prague that had lots of Italians some 3 centuries ago and that lies on the hill from the river (and the Old Town) to the Prague Castle. The "fat and skinny" church on the left is the St Nicholas Church, directly adjacent is one of the four buildings of my Alma Mater – Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the Charles University. These stupid anti-mathematics bastards couldn't find a better place for their protest than the backyard of the most mathematical college in Czechia.

(The Lesser Town building – the most historically impressive one – is primarily used by computer scientists, logicians, those who study set theory, interplay of mathematics and language, and similar things.)

Almost all the commenters on the Internet are adults who agree that mathematics is important and this is a sign of the ongoing deterioration. (Some of them say they're happy because their job won't be at risk by competitors from the young generation.) That's true for over 95% of comments at Novinky.cz (where some comments tend to say "things were better during communism" because the readers of Novinky like to say it in many contexts), iDNES.cz (dominated by the commercial sector middle generation), and many others.

I won't try to repeat the arguments why mathematics – while hard and maybe even because it's hard – is the real cornerstone of rational thinking, the basic language and toolkit for pure and applied natural sciences and for engineering but also for economics, why rigorous enough thinking is needed by the lawyers and many other occupations. Even if one is working in an occupation that seems non-mathematical, mathematics is also needed for many everyday life situations, for a rational selection of policies and the politicians whom you should vote for, and many more things. Who hasn't understood the importance of mathematics will probably never understand it.

Instead, let me ask the question whether the youth or the adults are responsible for this deterioration of the education system and standards.

Well, my answer is that while it looks as if the youth were responsible and the current youth displays the largest amount of "negative symptoms", the primary culprits are adults – adults just like the minister Mr Plaga. The youth looks totally lazy and superficial today, they only want to do things that are entertaining, they don't want to do anything that is hard, anything that is competitive, and they are OK with being assistants to an intellectual giant of Greta Thunberg's caliber, assistants to an unstable teenager who should normally be locked in a padded cell.

But you know, if we were allowed the same freedom (freedom from academic duties etc.) 30 years ago, most of my generation – and similarly, most of your generation and virtually any generation of kids and teenagers – would do exactly the same. I am absolutely confident that a majority of my classmates at the elementary schools and the high school would give "thumbs down" and not "thumbs up" to mathematics if they had the complete freedom to choose. This anti-mathematics majority could have been overwhelming at many places and in many epochs.

However, these anti-mathematics sentiments have never led to an actual elimination of mathematics from the education system simply because the fudging bastards like us weren't in charge of the school system. After the communism fell, or after rare dissidents such as your humble correspondent and some college students, along with adults who joined, deconstructed the non-democratic regime, we could also vote and fire our chemistry teacher. We replaced the the high school principal by another one (our mathematics teacher), too. Children were ruling. But everyone expected it would be a temporary fad accompanying the revolutionary chaos. Well, not quite. Some of it survived and the teenagers seem to be in charge and Mr Plaga, the minister, is mainly obsessed with the best algorithms to appease the loudest ones among these bastards.

Once again, Greta Thunberg is the best symbol of all the degeneration of the schools and the society in general. During Maria Theresa's reign, kids like that would be forced to kneel on frozen peas or they would spanked so that they couldn't sit for a month. These days, similar lazy useless uneducated dishonest parasitic bastards are being given the Nobel Peace Prizes, trips to America on a carbon-fiber solar yacht, and a Tesla from Arnold Schwarzenegger. The youth is being led to believe that everyone can be like Greta, a successful parasite – but due to their putrefying brain mass, they become collectively incapable of figuring out that someone will actually have to design and produce the carbon-fiber solar yachts, too.

It's the youth whose behavior may be seen to be changing most abruptly – but it's the adults like Guterres, Plaga, and Schwarzenegger (and Babiš who is also against any mandatory mathematics) who are responsible for these outrageous events. Greta and most kids of her generation are behaving in this outrageous way because they can get away with it. In fact, they are encouraged to do such things. The primary change has been the change in the behavior of the adults. But it's still true that the first generation of adults that started to damage the system in this way were the hippies who were students in the late 1960s – and maybe they decided to become the first generation that destroys all these things without the help of older teammates.

Well, I still admit it is a vicious circle so the question is similar to the question what came first, the chicken or the egg. Adults allow the kids to become lazy, shallow, brainwashed, and mathematically and scientifically illiterate. But these kids are getting older and they gradually become adults as well. And such new adults are even more likely to encourage the even younger generations in being totally fudged up in all these respects. The amount of mathematics that the kids learn (and many other vital things) is approximately exponentially dropping, as you can determine if you still understand this dynamics and some mathematics. The half-life of mathematics at schools may very well be just a decade.

There are ongoing processes that are mutually supporting each other. And the claims that "there is something wrong with mathematics" are undoubtedly a major part of the problem – they may be described as propaganda that acts as a self-fulfilling prophesy. When people say that "mathematics education sucks", it's really an excuse for the "mathematics education to suck" even more, it's really an excuse to diminish it further, give less time and less money to it, and so on. It's completely wrong. In reality, one may evaluate the quality in a more cautious, relativistic way and conclude that the mathematics education isn't extremely terrible today: it's close to the average – it's much worse than 20 years ago but much better than 20 years in the future. ;-)

If you haven't lost the last mathematical brain cells, you can surely deduce that the elimination (or non-reintroduction) of a major mandatory mathematics exam will surely lower the knowledge of mathematics further because the exam used to be (and could be again) one of the major forces that has actually pushed (and could push again) the teenagers to spend some time with learning mathematics. It often seems to me that most people are incapable of deducing even this simple vital causal relationship and those who are aware of it but find it inconvenient are capable of turning it into a complete secret! :-) The dumbing down of the population and of the discussions about topics, including this one, is staggering.

The lawmakers should introduce a law that everyone who says these mindlessly negative things about mathematics should see her or his nose broken or experience some comparable punishment. But there's probably not enough political support even for such mild policies because the lazy, innumerate bastards etc. are already de facto controlling the Parliaments, too.

A necessary condition to stop this deterioration is for those who appreciate (and can do) mathematics and who agree that the ongoing evolution is negative to gain some self-confidence, aggressiveness, and go after the neck of those who are clearly working on the elimination of mathematics from schools and mathematics skills from our society. Lazy bastards must be treated as plague and I am afraid that Mr Plaga is plague as well, as his name probably indicates, anyway. If someone can't solve problems from high school mathematics, then he or she is stupid and it is important for this fact to be advertised.

Matura isn't primarily a social event that should entertain teenagers. It's a certificate that the teenager who is just turning into an adult isn't stupid. Or he or she is probably more intelligent than those who couldn't pass the exam. When he or she can't do high school mathematics, however, then he or she is stupid. Note that two sentences ago, I used the words "more intelligent", a comparison. This relative evaluation is another key to the problem. Why? Because the current generation lacks any competitiveness. They don't want to be better than their classmates at anything. It's really a consequence of the insane ideology of egalitarianism. Once again, we may associate this disease with the current generation of teenagers but this egalitarianism was largely also enforced on the youth by the adults. So just like before, the contemporary adults are the primary culprits! And once again, the elimination of competitiveness from the young people's thinking may have started by the leftist movement in the late 1960s.

The evolution is disgusting and is being led by a relatively tiny number of people – who are usually far left activists. It can't surprise anybody that e.g. Mr Hejný, the guru behind the crackpot alternative education methods in mathematics which isn't really mathematics anymore, has been a violent opponent of mandatory mathematics exams at all places, too. These people actively want to make the nations mathematically illiterate (and, in Hejný's case, redefine what the word "mathematics" means, in order to mask the decreasing numeracy) because the mathematical literacy allows the people to see that their broader views about the society (derived from an extreme left-wing ideology) are plain idiotic, too. So the dumber the society is, the better for them – it will be easier for them to keep their status of (fake) elites and to easily rule whole nations.

It's ultimately a very small group of very bad people who are dragging the whole nations down.

P.S.: It's not true that all European nations are affected by similar deterioration of the education system – at least not equally. Hungary keeps some quality of its schools. It has banned the outrageously parasitic and dishonest "gender studies" but isn't abandoning mathematics. Consequently, it has collected 13 Nobel prizes instead of Czechia's 2, and the recent ranking at the International Mathematical Olympiad was between 10th and 20th or so, instead of between 30th and 70th for Czechia. No one seems to care that we're getting increasingly inferior relatively to nearby nations like Hungary. If you listened to the media, it would seem more important that some neo-Narxist filth in Brussels and the NGOs is focusing more of its criticism on Hungary and we're the "better guys". Not really. They are pushing themselves in a better way.

Gréta Thunbergová has participated in the TV contest "Czecho Slovakia Has Talent". She has impressed the jury by her recitation, speed of answers, management, and clarity of her plans. The Prima Cool TV video (the Czech TV channel that airs The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, The Top Gear, and other contemporary Anglo-Saxon shows) shows why Heydrich called us the laughing beasts. Indeed, everything is up for laughter among Czechs, as Michael Palin said: in many other countries, mocking this ill yet obnoxious teenage prophet would almost be a blasphemy. Here, the viral video (#1 on Czech YouTube) has collected over 600,000 views in less than three days, with an overwhelmingly positive rating.

Greta's self-confident protests after the negative votes were similar to the protests by the famous Annie Dido (Anička Dajdou).