Top mind Nash favors homeschool
DAILY NEWS photoWorld-renowned Nobel-laureate mathematician John Nash, whose story inspired the Hollywood film “A Beautiful Mind,” said children can sometimes be more successful than adults at solving mathematical problems. “Maybe all schools should be closed,” he said, speaking at the world congress of the Game Theory Society in Istanbul.
Nash talked to students about mathematics education on the first day of the conference held at Istanbul Bilgi University.
“Mathematics is directly related to not only honesty, but also justice. If you look at the ancient Roman texts, you will see mathematics in each of them,” Nash said.
Told that Turkey had a very low rating in mathematics education among the OECD countries, and that many students scored zero on the last university entrance exam, “Zero is not that terrible in terms of mathematics theory,” Nash said smilingly.
Nash said the U.S. is near 20th place worldwide in terms of mathematics education, adding that education is a political matter.
“In the period of Bush, the president said ‘We will equalize education in the U.S., no child will be left behind.’ Do you think this is possible? Of course not. The president was talking about a paradise, but such a paradise does not exist,” Nash said. “If you look at the subject in terms of mathematics education, everyone cannot be a mathematician, and such a thing should not be expected. Instead of [a lot of] useless crap taught to children in primary schools, it would be better to teach more mathematics and science. However, children should be educated according to their tendencies and skills.”
Asked if there is a difference in mathematics learning between men and women, Nash said: “This is a highly disputed subject. Harvard University Rector Larry Summers, who worked as a consultant for the Clinton government, made a similar statement in a speech he made in 2005, implying that men are better-equipped than women [in the] scientific field. He lost his job. He had to resign and left the university. A woman, Drew Gilpin Faust, took over his position. Even though scientific data show that [there is a difference], I don’t think any data imply such a thing; making such a statement about women is completely wrong.”
“Maybe educating children at home is best. Education at home is legal and free in the U.S. A woman educated at home has become one of the most important academics in mathematics at Princeton University. Maybe all schools should be closed,” Nash said, commenting on research showing that children are more successful at solving mathematics problems than adults.
When asked whether mathematics is related to honesty, Nash said, “Of course it is related, because mathematics aims to find the truth. This is a very important aspect. There are no lies in math.”