On Numeration (Khan meet Steigler)

I’ve been spending some hours this weekend reviewing math at the amazing Khan Academy.  The following reflection is meant as a contemplation of a trend and not in any way a critique of their valuable work.

Consider the screenshot below: where the value assigned to IAK of 66º does not accurately reflect it’s value. Both angles IAK and GCJ, if measured with a tool like a compass, are 45º angles. Yet IAK is labelled 66º and the correct answer to the angle GCJ is 24º. It does not seem like an important mislabelling, yet there is a fundamental conceptual issue at stake here. And it has a relation to poetry (perhaps tenuous) but it’s an issue of trust. As Tom Waits said: “The large print giveth, the small print taketh away”. Exactly as here: where the faint inscription at the bottom states: “Note: Angles not necessarily drawn to scale.”

MWSnap017 2014-04-008


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