This is going to sound harsh to some… I was surfing a Martial Arts organization site (to remain unnamed) and came across this survey:
Hopefully you see what is wrong here… Percentages should add up to 100%, not more or less! I’m pretty sure what this program is doing wrong is showing the count for each and adding a percentage sign. Fairly easy mistake if you are not checking the output of the programs you are using. I draw attention to this because A) it is amusing (to me) and B) this is a problem I run into routinely in day to day interactions…problems with percentages. Percentages are a form of very basic math with we should all have mastery over. Percentages are a basic part of our daily lives (tests, sales, etc). Yet many of people have trouble calculating what 10% of something is without a calculator. This is embarrassing for the person and anyone around who knows how to make the calculation. So where am I going with this?…
The emphasis we put on education especially math has deteriorated mostly due to fear of math and dislike of math. Fear of math is typically founded in lack of understanding. Dislike of math is usually a product of bad teachers OR laziness. Harsh? Yes, but true, I know from experience. Our schools are failing us and our children. We as martial artists are failing our students as part of that education equation. Math is very much a part of the Martial Arts but it is typically ignored. When was the last time you or your instructor spoke to you of vectors or the weight of a portion of the exam? If that doesn’t make sense then you demonstrated my point!
What to do?! Well we can first start to demand some accountability of our teachers and school systems. I’m not talking ‘No Child Left Behind’ I mean checking the work of our teachers and schools. As Martial Artists we have unique opportunities as role models for children, we can promote much more then the physical and “spiritual” aspects of the students development. Math is all around us, especially in the Martial Arts.
We are failing our children…Think of it this way, for all the effort and energy and emphasis the USA puts on sports shouldn’t we be the world leaders in every sport? How have we done in the last few Olympics? The World Cup? While sports are very important they must remain secondary to academic skills. A hard truth for a group who’s passion is a physical activity…the Martial Arts. But think of it this way, the ancient masters could not have developed the Martial Arts if they did not have a sound understanding of the principles of Math and Physics. So tell your students about math, get them interested maybe even give them an assignment!