Education and Post Turtles


       Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.

   Today, we have two apocrypha about politics and mathematics teaching in the political school system. Since the public school system is politically controlled, there are lively debates about philosophy with no concern for efficiency or effectiveness. Only taxpayers need to be practical. Tax consumers can fail without penalty.

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

Eventually the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy who was far too big for his shoes as a politician.

The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.

The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain. ‘You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.’ “

      Which leads to this teaching scenario:

1) Teaching Math In 1956  A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of     production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

2) Teaching Math In 1976  A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of     production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3) Teaching Math In 1986  A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of     production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4) Teaching Math In 1996  A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of     production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5) Teaching Math In 2016 A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of the animals and the preservation of our woodlands.

He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. Feel free to express your feelings, e.g., anger, anxiety, anxiety, helplessness, etc.) Should you require counseling at the conclusion of this exam, professionals will be available to help you return to your safe space.


  Ah yes. Propaganda about capitalism, concern about ecological systems and Climate Change. How can something as trivial as mathematics stand against these important considerations? Parents tell me that they’re expected to teach mathematics while the teachers are dealing with “conceptual issues.” That’s edu-speak for the extended IQ test that is education.

Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “Power Teaching: How to Find Someone to Teach Your Child when the Education System has Failed.
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies


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