Math Articles – Have You Read Any That Fail To Deliver The Promised Information? What You Can Do

Since you are reading this article, you either thought from the title that this would be a topic of interest to you; or, hopefully for me, you are familiar with my work and know that: (1) I know about my topic inside out, (2) I always write about my title, and (3) my articles give you a sense of satisfaction–not a sense of being cheated out of desired information. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could count on every article to provide this satisfaction? Wouldn’t it be nice if our students could count on articles to be factual?

I have always been a math person and, as such, reading has never been my strong suit. That changed when I was introduced to Now, if I am not writing articles, I am either reading articles, blogs, websites, or magazines. I have probably read more in the last seven months than I have in my entire life–and I am not exaggerating! I am fascinated by the unusual things I find, by author creativity, and by the amount of information I have learned in so short a time. There are, however, 3 things I keep encountering that push my buttons. (This means they make me frustrated and angry–for you young people needing translation.)

First: Finding information that is incorrect but being presented as fact. Several months ago, I read an article about becoming a psychologist through online courses. This person stated it was possible to become a psychologist with a 2-year Associates degree. This isn’t even remotely true; but many who read this will believe it.

Second: Getting to the end of the article and discovering that the information I wanted simply isn’t in the article. This happened recently with an article claiming to discuss the rules of logic. I happen to believe that the study of logic is so important that it should be taught in every grade, so I wanted to see what this person had to say. Alas, no rules of logic to be found–certainly not very logical!

Third: Realizing that an article purporting to be educational is actually a veiled attempt to sell rather than educate. One expects that certain categories, by their very nature–let’s use penis enlargement as an example–will send certain people clicking as fast as possible to purchase something. When one expects to buy, the push to sell is acceptable. When one expects to learn, the pressure to sell should be minimal. (I apologize to all people under 18 for my example.)

I am a retired math teacher, and I take very seriously the quality and accuracy of the information presented about mathematics. For an author to write a quality article about hiring a tutor is perfectly acceptable as long as the title indicates that as the topic. However, a given author need not write 20 such articles since a handful would cover about every possibility–student view, parent view, teacher view, tutor view, etc. To write a tutor article about every course there is to take is absolutely absurd! Even worse, though, is writing articles about math topics one obviously knows nothing about, but just adding lots of mathematical words and trusting no one realizes it is garbage–all while really pushing online tutoring.

Educational articles should be written with the expectation that parents and students will be searching for this information. Consequently, authors need to be writing educationally sound articles. If this isn’t happening, we all–especially our students–need readers to take on the responsibility to say, “NO, this is not the place for this!”

Here are 5 quick suggestions on how to do just that:

1) The very first time you read an inaccurate or misleading article, check the author bio. If the author is NOT an expert in mathematics, for example, then do not read any other articles by this person and SPREAD THE WORD.

2) Give the article a bad rating if this is an option. On some sites it is. On other sites it is not. This IS becoming a more common option. Take advantage of it to SPREAD THE WORD.

3) If possible, write a personal comment to the author and be very specific about what you find objectionable. This may not change anything, but you will feel better.

4) Do NOT go to any website being pushed within educational articles, and SPREAD THE WORD. Note, in a resource box, a website reference is acceptable; but in the article itself, there should be minimal pressure for you to buy.

5) Report the author and the article to the website management. Complaints from readers get heard. Use your power!

Here’s to the hope that every article we read–whether in mathematics or not–

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