The Tao of Statistics

One huge problem with education is that it often kills enthusiasm for learning. With fields like math, schools often teach students complicated math principles without explaining what these math equations even do. Students are forced into learning mind-numbing math equations without ever knowing why they’re learning them in the first place.

To fix this problem, read The Tao of Statisticswhich teaches statistics without displaying a single mathematical equation anywhere in its pages. Instead of bombarding users with cryptic equations and expecting students to magically understand the significance, The Tao of Statistics uses ordinary words with a Zen-like attitude to explain what statistics even does.

For example, statistics isn’t about collecting and analyzing data but answering questions such as how many people own a smartphone in Dallas or how many cars in Paris are more than two years old. Once you know what question you’re trying to answer, then you can go out and collect data to deduce an answer.

Ideally, you’d want to collect all the data you need to determine an answer, but collecting all the data on how many people own smartphones in Dallas can be time-consuming. To save time, statistics collects a much smaller collection of data known as a sample. The larger the sample, the more accurate the conclusions you can make on that data, but ultimately statistics is nothing more than the art of intelligent guessing.

The more data you have, the better your guesses will be, but statistics can never be certain of anything. Statistics simply suggests probabilities that something is true. All those fancy mathematical equations are nothing more than ways to analyze numerical data such as how many people own cars in Paris that are more than two years old.

When you understand the rationale behind statistics, then you can worry about manipulating mathematical equations. Until you fully understand what you’re trying to do with statistics, knowing how to manipulate mathematical equations is simply a hindrance to learning and understanding. Knowing how to manipulate mathematical equations doesn’t always mean you know how to use those mathematical equations correctly.

Strip away the details and learning any topic can be fascinating and enlightening. Bury even the most interesting topic with jargon and even pornography can seem tedious, dull, and completely uninteresting.

The real problem with learning isn’t buying more technological gadgets like ChromeBooks or iPads and shoving them in the hands of reluctant teachers and bored students. Schools need to teach topics with true understanding and worry about the details of that topic later. Instead, schools focus on teaching the details first and often ignore the meaning altogether. The result is bored students who can parrot their way past tests and homework but who graduate with no clear understanding how to use the skills they supposedly learned in the first place.

The problem of education isn’t a technological problem, so there can never be a technological solution. Likewise, the problem of education is never a monetary problem so increasing budgets and throwing more money into the educational system is never the answer either. Schools need to teach understanding first and details later. Only then can people truly see the excitement of learning and realize that anyone can learn anything with the proper motivation and teaching methods.

January 16th, 2015 by
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