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Employment for mathematicians (was Re: [learningfromeachother] Re: Please help Andrius think of rewards for crowdfunders!)

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  • Edward Cherlin
    ... I can suggest a few other experiences for you that might surprise you. ... That was not at all my experience at Yale, where admittedly I hung out with the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2011
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      On Sat, May 7, 2011 at 14:30, <ms@...> wrote:
      > Hi Edward,
      >
      > I do have a Ph.D. and could teach at a college or university.
      > * My original reason for not teaching at one is that it is a very
      > sheltered life and thus not a good environment for learning about
      > life.  I've seen a lot of life and so maybe that is not so relevant now.

      I can suggest a few other experiences for you that might surprise you.

      > * Another reason for not teaching is that, in mathematics, the entire
      > field is disingenuous.  The primary purpose of college math is to make
      > a certain percentage of people feel incompetent, give up and fail so
      > as to reduce the amount of people entering engineering, medicine,
      > etc..

      That was not at all my experience at Yale, where admittedly I hung out
      with the top math students.

      > There are practically no jobs for Math Ph.D.'s except for being
      > a college professor and training more Math Ph.D.'s

      This turns out not to be the case. Math Ph.D.'s are in great demand as
      actuaries (like my father), on Wall Street, in Computer Science, in
      cryptography, in statistical analysis such as design of experiments in
      biology generally and medicine more specifically, and in many other
      areas. I can introduce you to several people employed in such ways,
      and tell you how to find many more.

      > Mathematics
      > education in university, high school, grade school is completely
      > unintuitive and barbaric.  There is no real interest by students or
      > teachers to have a humane system.

      Again, I find that this is not the case, but that students and
      teachers have learned to hide their aspirations for real learning, as
      I often did myself. That is why I am entirely devoted to creating such
      a real, humane system in my Sugar Labs project.

      > * My passion to "know everything" or to document and share "ways of
      > figuring things out" can't be pursued in the academic world.  There
      > are no academics pursuing such questions, no peer-reviewed journals
      > for them.  In philosophy, there is no allowance that one might find
      > absolute answers.

      Also not the case. Inter-disciplinary studies are all the rage. You
      might have to look for an organization like the early Buckminster
      Fuller Institute, or the early Doug Engelbart lab at SRI. There still
      are some. I should introduce you to Alan Kay, who ran such lab
      projects for Xerox and Apple.

      > * Academics is a career.  There is a lot of competition for spots and
      > I am not needed.  The pay for adjunct professors is less than an
      > average wage and insufficient for me to stay afloat and pay back my
      > loans.

      I don't know much about that. OK, industry definitely pays well for
      mathematicians, and there have been research groups that paid at least
      adequately. Google is always looking for Ph. D. mathematicians. Their
      pagerank algorithm started out as a sparse matrix implementation of
      finding eigenvectors of huge matrices, originally with millions of
      rows and columns, now billions. Now they are heavily involved in
      computational linguistics, GIS, and many other mathematical projects.
      Here, try this search.

      http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/search/index.html#q=math

      > * Students, in general, don't want to learn.  And so, in general, I
      > don't want to teach them.

      Students, in general, have been told that they cannot learn, that they
      are not allowed to learn, that they will get into trouble if they
      learn, for years and years. You cannot find a pre-school child who
      does not want to learn, and who has not learned to walk and talk and
      cope with the physics of the world and the surrounding society, unless
      severely disabled. It takes hard work to convince such children not to
      learn any more, but most societies are good at it.

      > I'm a good learner and it's not fair for me
      > to have to teach others who don't have my passion.

      The Universe is not answerable to my personal will. Fairness doesn't
      come into the question. The question is, are you willing to do what
      needs to be done?

      >  It's wasteful of a
      > good thing.  Yes, I'm willing to do some of that to make a living, as
      > I have and am as a tutor.  But it's not what God tells me to do.

      Alternatively, you could enter a monastery. The Jesuits would be
      delighted with you. You would be welcome at Shasta Abbey if you chose
      to embrace the compassion of the Buddha and the precepts that we live
      by, but you wouldn't get to do math there.

      > If I was an acknowledged genius, then there might be a job waiting for
      > me in academics.  But then I would have other options as well.  If I'm
      > an unacknowledged genius, then there is no benefit.  And I've met some
      > brilliant people in academia, but their brilliance was not helpful for
      > their career.  Academics rewards the mundane.

      A career is irrelevant to your aspirations. You need a paying job that
      allows you to do research, or a non-paying situation that takes care
      of your minimal physical needs and leaves your mind free.

      > Edward, Pamela and all, Please do help me make the most of my
      > crowdfunding attempt.  I do need your feedback, what would be good
      > rewards, what would make the project exciting.  I do need your help.
      > I have helped many people, I think, and so I ask that at this time we
      > all help with our thoughts and ideas.

      I am equally occupied with trying to fund the Sugar Labs Replace
      Textbooks project, including getting contracts to create a new kind of
      Open Education Resource following Jerome Bruner and other proponents
      of humane education.

      We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught
      effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any
      stage of development.

      The Process of Education (1960)

      Can I interest you in investigating how children really learn math,
      and how they might learn math if it were presented in the same way as
      natural language? (Seymour Papert, Mindstorms: Children, Computers,
      and Powerful Ideas.) Not the way we present foreign languages so that
      older children utterly fail to learn to speak them.

      > Thank you,
      >
      > Andrius
      >
      > Andrius Kulikauskas, http://www.selflearners.net, ms@..., (773) 306-3807
      >
      > Quoting Edward Cherlin <echerlin@...>:
      >> I never got clear on why you don't want to teach at a regular college
      >> or university. They are set up specifically to support work like
      >> yours.


      --
      Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
      Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
      The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
      http://www.earthtreasury.org/
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