Thursday, August 07, 2008

King Banaian finds a great quotation

And I have to reproduce it from this overall excellent and interesting reflection:
A society that worries itself about which chromosomes scientists have isn't a society that takes science education seriously. In 1900 the mathematician David Hilbert famously drew up a list of 23 unsolved problems in mathematics; 18 have now been solved. Hilbert has also bequeathed us a way of thinking about mathematics and the sciences as a to-do list of intellectual challenges. Notably, Hilbert didn't write down problem No. 24: "Make sure half the preceding 23 problems are solved by female mathematicians.

By the way, there is ample evidence that this omission is NOT because Hilbert had anything against women mathematicians. To the contrary. Note that, unsurprisingly to me, it is the philosophers, in a discipline without measurable results, who were the sexist obstacles.

But back to King's post. I love his reflections on his daughter's eagerness to learn.

This got me to thinking about the reactions I've gotten to Littlest's latest explorations: literature (her high school sent a list of classics deemed "important for college-track students" -- she's decided to work through the entire, two-page list) and military history, an interest she shares with me since doing her 8th grade history project on Alexander the Great. The reactions have been either "military history? That's odd" or "No! She is so good at math!" She still is. She's also 14. Let the girl grow, please. Laissez lire.

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