Originally published 5/11/12
So I spent last week with my parents since my husband was on a business trip, and since my dad had to travel as well for a couple of days, my mom and I decided to have a girls’ night out.
As we split an exquisite slice of chocolate cheesecake we shared stories of crazy experiences we’d had-or heard of-on the job, such as corporate controllers who did not believe in math, companies who listed as one of their values the ability to make fast decisions with little to no information, and people who based their decisions on whether or not to purchase inventory on a simulation tool rather than the reality of which items actually were or were not in stock.
As my mom and I have both spent a number of years as teachers, eventually talk turned to our crazy experiences as educators.
“You know I worked with a principal once who believed that as long as someone had the textbook, then any person was capable of teaching any subject,” my mom said.
“Oh yes, I remember him,” I replied.
“Well I also worked with a colleague-another math teacher-who was adamant about the fact that he did not believe in Indirect Proofs.”
Now, I am the first to admit that I myself hold some crazy beliefs. For example, I don’t believe in peanut butter as dessert. And I do believe that having a goatee turns you into the Evil Version of yourself. But I’d never before heard of a math teacher who did not believe in a particular part of math.
“So what did you say?” I asked.
“I told him that I didn’t realize that that was a belief stance. Plus, you can’t prove that the square root of 2 is irrational without indirect proofs.” (Which apparently is an important thing to be able to do, but I’m not sure exactly why that is, because math makes my head hurt. So I sort of tuned that part out.)
“That’s like being a language teacher who doesn’t believe in verbs,” I said. “But you couldn’t proclaim this belief, because you couldn’t use the kinds of words in which you didn’t believe. So it would be like, ‘I! No!’ Which would make it pretty difficult to convert anyone to your cause.”
(ETA: I have completely reversed my position on peanut butter and dessert; don’t know what I was thinking before.)