A Life’s Perspective on Ratios

You know you’re a math teacher when even I’m even starting to make the small parts of life mathematical.

A few instances:

Friend Quality vs. Quantity Ratio

I had a long conversation with a friend of mine who was looking at someone’s profile on Facebook and mentioning how many friends this person had. This person apparently had tons of people from all across the Northeast and even into the Midwest. It’s easy to think that the person’s making great connections. But then I said, “What if some other person’s friends on Facebook were Ban Ki-Moon, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., and Russell Simmons?” Who cares if you have 2000+ friends when the 5 friends this person may know and comment on his or her posts have a combined wealth and influence of over a kagillion dollars? I understand that there are different definitions of wealth and fortune, but how powerful are your connections if everything you do is spread thin?

Good Class vs. Bad Class Ratio

At first, teachers (good or bad) will tell you that there’s that one class that they really don’t get along with. But then when you ask them to narrow that, it’s really down to about 5-6. As a matter of fact, that’s most classes actually. The 10% ratio doesn’t work for just the most “talented” individuals, but the ones that need more serious intervention. Out of 90 or so children, if I only have 9 or less total that need that sort of intervention, that’s a good day. (just hopefully not in the same class)

Common Quality vs. Quantity Ratio

Now, would I prefer a comment that discussed the global economy in the eyes of Karl Marx or Deng Xiaoping (when relevant) or “hey nice site.” I got a billion comments from Tramadol spammers who can fill that requirement quite nicely. Not that I’m dissing those who leave any comments, but comments of substance, whether they’re one-liners or full paragraphs are much better than 200 spews of randomness. Any day.

All this to say that numbers matter, but if we can’t interpret what they mean, then they’re wasted. We need to look at the value and variables behind them all.

jose, getting better at guestimation by the day …

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

1. tafari

I am with you on the social networking friends!!! I get many friend requests on Myspace & I deny them if I do not know them.

I think it’s ok to add people that you follow like musicians etc but a bunch of anonymous people around the world means nothing in the big scheme of things.

Tafari

tafaris last blog post..Quick Tidbits

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Jose

Yeah. I’m still having a hard time adding musicians too, strictly because if someone were to ask who’s their fan, and I’m not a fan but it links to my profile anyways, it’s an issue. I am that particular when it comes to musicians. I’m less particular when it comes to random people because I’m like that, too. But I also try to reach out to those who I think might provide more dimension to my social sphere.

3. Kate

You reminded me of this:

“A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator the smaller the fraction.”
– Count Lev Nikolgevich Tolstoy

Kates last blog post..Nova Nerdplosion

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Jose

WOW! That was certainly a powerful quote Kate. If that’s the case, I’m trying to make my fraction completely and utterly “improper.” Thanks for dropping by.