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美国人的数学到底有多差(双语)
来源:新浪博客 外研社 发布者:人教教学资源网 时间:2015-06-04

I AM afraidyou’re eligible to read this column only ifyou can answer this question facedby eighth gradersaround the world:

下面这个题是用来考世界各地八年级学生的,如果你答不上来,恐怕就不适合阅读这篇专栏了:

What is the sumof the three consecutive wholenumbers with 2n as the middle number?

三个连续整数,中间一个是2n,它们的总和是多少?

A. 6n 3

A. 6n 3

B. 6n

B. 6n

C. 6n-1

C. 6n-1

D. 6n-3

D. 6n-3

【每日社会】美国人的数学到底有多差(双语)

More thanthree-quarters of South Korean kids answered correctly (it is B). Only 37percent ofAmerican kids were correct, lagging their peers from Iran, Indonesiaand Ghana.

超过四分之三的韩国孩子回答正确(答案是B)。美国孩子只有37%答对,落后于伊朗、印度尼西亚和加纳的同龄人。

We know Johnnycan’t read; it appears that Johnny is even worse at counting.

我们知道美国小孩的阅读能力不行;看来他们的算术能力更糟糕。

The EducationalTesting Service released a global report finding that young adults fromtheUnited States rank poorly in reading but are even worse in math — the worstof all countriestested. This is the generation that will be in the labor forcefor the next half-century, strugglingto compete with citizens of othercountries.

美国教育考试服务中心(EducationalTesting Service,简称ETS)发布的一份全球报告称,美国年轻人的阅读能力排名不佳,但数学能力排名更糟——是所有参加测试的国家中最低的。这代人将在今后半个世纪成为劳动者,他们难与其他国家的公民竞争。

It’s not justthat American results are dragged down by poverty. Even Americanmillennialswith graduate degrees score near the bottom of international ranksin numeracy.

这不仅仅是说美国人的测试结果受到了贫困的拖累。即使有研究生学位的美国千禧一代,在算术上的得分也在国际排名中接近垫底。

We interruptthis column for another problem:

下面再试试另一个问题:

How many degreesdoes a minute hand of a clock turn through from 6:20 a.m. to 8 a.m. on thesameday?

从早上6:20到同一天的8点,时钟的分针旋转了多少度?

A. 680 degrees

A. 680度

B. 600 degrees

B. 600度

C. 540 degrees

C. 540度

D. 420 degrees

D. 420度

Only 22 percentof American eighth-graders correctly answered B, below Palestinians, TurksandArmenians.

只有22%的美国八年级学生给出了正确回答B,落后于巴勒斯坦人、土耳其人和亚美尼亚人。

In a recentcolumn, I offered a paean to the humanities. But it’s also true, as aprofessornotes in a letter to the editor, that science majors do takehumanities courses. In contrast,humanities majors often desperately avoid anysemblance of math or science (except forclasses like “Physics for Poets”).

在最近的专栏中,我为人文学科奉上了一曲赞歌。但是正如一位教授在给编辑的信中指出的,科学专业的学生事实上有在学习人文课程。相形之下,人文专业的学生往往拼命逃避任何和数学或科学沾边的东西(除了“诗人物理学”这样的课程)。

Numeracy isn’t asign of geekiness, but a basic requirement for intelligent discussions ofpublicpolicy. Without it, politicians routinely get away with using statistics,as Mark Twain supposedlyobserved, the way a drunk uses a lamppost: for supportrather than illumination.

会算术不是怪咖的标志,而是对公共政策进行理性讨论的基本要求。路灯在醉鬼的眼里是用来支撑身体而不是照明的——据说语出马克·吐温(Mark Twain),如果没有算术,政客三天两头像醉鬼利用路灯一样去利用统计数据,也不会被发现。

(I believeAmerican high schools and colleges overemphasize calculus and don’tsufficientlyteach statistics. Statistical literacy should be part of everycitizen’s tool kit.)

(我相信美国高中和大学过分强调了微积分,而在统计方面教得比较少。统计应该是每一个公民应有的基本素养。)

Public debatesoften dance around basic statistical concepts, like standard deviation,becausetoo few Americans understand them. And people assume far too much of“averages.”

公开辩论常常避开基本的统计概念,比如标准差,因为了解它们的美国人太少了。而人们对“平均数”有太多一厢情愿的理解。

After all,American adults have, on average, one ovary and one testicle. But try findingsuch an“average person.”

美国成年人平均每人有一个卵巢和一个睾丸。但你找到一个这样的“一般人”试试。

Another popquiz:

再来一个临时小测验:

A piece of woodwas 40 centimeters long. It was cut into 3 pieces. The lengths incentimetersare 2x -5, x  7 and x  6. What is the length of the longest piece?

一块木头有40厘米长。它被切成3段。以厘米为单位,三段木头长度分别是2x-5、x 7和x 6。最长的那段有多长?

Only 7 percentof American eighth graders got that one right (the answer is 15 centimeters).Incontrast, 53 percent of Singaporean eighth graders answered correctly.

只有7%的美国八年级学生回答正确(答案是15厘米)。相比之下,新加坡八年级学生中有53%回答正确。

I know manyreaders will grumblingly protest that they’re just not good at math! True,thereare math prodigies who are different from you and me. When the greatmathematician CarlGauss was a young boy, his teacher is said to have asked hisclass to calculate the sum of allthe numbers from 1 to 100. Gauss supposedlysupplied the answer almost instantly: 5,050.

我知道很多读者会发牢骚抗议说,他们只是不擅长数学而已!诚然,世界上有些数学天才异于你我常人。据说伟大的数学家卡尔·高斯(Carl Gauss)还是一个小男孩时,他的老师在课上要求学生计算从1到100所有数字的总和,高斯几乎瞬间就得出答案:5050。

The teacher,flabbergasted, asked how he knew. Gauss explained that he had added 1 and 100,2 and 99, and realized that there would be 50 such pairs each summing 101. So50 times 101equals 5,050.

老师大吃一惊,问他怎么知道。高斯解释说,他把1和100相加,2和99相加,他意识到这样的对子有50个,每对的和为101。所以,50乘以101等于5050。

So I agree:Let’s resent the Gausses of the world for being annoyingly smart. But let’snotuse that as an excuse to hide from the rigor of numbers. Countries likeSingapore manage toimpart extraordinary math skills in ordinary children becausethey work at it.

所以我同意:大家一起来怨恨高斯这种聪明得让人恼火的人。但我们不能把那当作借口来躲开严谨的数字。像新加坡这样的国家,就成功地让普通孩子掌握了良好的数学技能,因为他们在这方面努了力。

Numeracy isn’tjust about numbers, of course. It’s also about logic. Let me leave you withalogical puzzle — a family favorite, one that I first heard as a little kid —that isn’tmathematical at all. Yet people with math training seem better atthinking it through andsolving it:

算术当然不仅仅是数字。它还涉及逻辑。下面有一个逻辑题——是我家里人最喜欢的一个,我第一次听到它的时候还是一个小孩——完全和数学无关。然而,接受过数学培训的人似乎更善于思考并解决它:

You’re in adungeon with two doors. One leads to escape, the other to execution. Thereareonly two other people in the room, one of whom always tells the truth, whilethe other alwayslies. You don’t know which is which, but they know that theother always lies or tells the truth.You can ask one of them one question, but,of course, you don’t know whether you’ll bespeaking to the truth-teller or theliar. So what single question can you ask one of them thatwill enable you tofigure out which door is which and make your escape?

你在一个地牢里,地牢有两扇门,其中一扇是生门,另一扇是死门。地牢里除你之外只有两个人,其中一人总是讲真话,另一个总是说谎。你不知道谁讲真话谁说谎,但他们互相知道。你可以问他们其中一人一个问题,当然,你不知道你问的究竟是老实人还是骗子。那么,这个问题该怎么问,才能知道哪扇是生门,哪扇是死门,从而死里逃生?

It’s not a trickquestion. When you hear the answer, you’ll see it’s straightforward.Firstreader who doesn’t know this problem, works it out and tweets me thecorrect answer or postsit on my Facebook page gets a signed copy of my latestbook or a Saddam Hussein poster thatI liberated in Iraq during the war there.I’ve posted the answer on my blog, but you won’t needthe help, will you?


这不是一个脑筋急转弯。一旦你听到答案,你会觉得它很简单。之前不知道这个问题,但想出答案的人,可以在Twitter上把答案发给我,或者贴在我的Facebook页面上,第一个给出正确答案的人,可以获得我签名的新书一册,或者一张我从战时的伊拉克解救出来的萨达姆·侯赛因(Saddam Hussein)海报。我已经把答案贴在博客里了,但你不需要看答案,对吗?

(转载于新浪博客  外研社)

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