Does memorizing grade school arithmetic facts correlate to success in science?

Does memorizing grade school arithmetic facts correlate to success in science?

"I did A level maths and a science degree at Cambridge I still don't know my tables and can't spell it is all a pointless waste of time!"

The above was posted by Jenny P a while ago. My question to Jenny and to all other scientists and engineers out there is this: How well does memorization of grade school arithmetic facts correlate to success in science?

After reading "In the Mind's Eye" by Thomas G. West, Parthenon Books 1997, I think if anything, there may be a negative correlation,. West shows us persons like Edison, Einstein, Maxwell, Tesla, Poincare, who were unable to do high school maths, yet made huge contributions in the field.

3 Replies

  • Digits I suspect I'm not one to speak as my maths ability is not great although I'm learning that its probvably a lot better than I give credit for! I suspect that because I had teachers who took the time to show how and why it made sense rather than memorising theory is why I can still do it today. I remeber learning about building pyramids in ancient egypt and how drake navigated at sea. It all seems quite detached but it worked and I got a GCSE in maths and an As in Physics because I'd seen the theories in action rather than just mermorised them from a text book. Ultimately Edison, Einstien, Maxwell, Tesla and Poincare were very creative and able to imagine, or think if you prefer, about how things worked I suspect the numbers were a way of describing what they had done. Regardles of whether they were working out how to use electricity or looking at partical physics. I suspect many dyslexics can empathise with that experience. As a final note I had a teacher who used to say that grades are abot getting a start in life and once you have enough to get a job the rest is about how good you are and the grades are in the background.

  • Furthermore, I personally have been unjustly kept out of higher education in science because of my lack of lower level arithmetic. I was never given the opportunity to formally study and work in the higher concepts that the dyslexics in West's book, "In the Mind's Eye" developed.

    I believe that our civilization has lost great advances because of this arbitrary thinning of the field of persons allowed to study and practice science.

  • Jenny P states that she was able to go to Cambridge and become a science professional. I wish Jenny P would tell the rest of us how she did this. How was she not blocked from higher studies as I was?

    Anyone else with a similar life story, please share your secrets of success in the left-brained world with us!

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