Growing strong leaders and team champions in work, life and technology

Leading with Geometry

CPT Jonathan Silk of the United States Military Academy Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) organization brought to my attention a Washington Post article on “Trade geometry class for entrepreneurship”.  Frankly, the article did not deserve a response as its proposal was ludicrous, but I was compelled to respond and here are my comments posted there:
 
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No question entrepreneurship is valuable to learn. Kids take this on setting up lemonade stands, and how many catalogs have I seen selling wrapping paper, cards, candy and do not forget the good ole Girl Scout Cookies. Those thin mints get me every time (but the darn package seems to get smaller)…. they sell themselves. Speaking of the packaging of those cookies….. Geometry. A helluva lot of geometry went into designing the packaging equipment used to bring those cookies to the hands of girls in green. How do I know this? I am an engineer… and by golly sakes I am a girl too…. and I even sold Girl Scout cookies and got a sales award doing it (I can sell a product I know and love all too well).  
 
So with all of these MULTIPLE TIMES PER YEAR entrepreneurship opportunities thrust on our children from PRESCHOOL ON…. HERE IS OUR CHANCE to teach entrepreneurship and LEADERSHIP! How about the organizations bringing these fundraisers to our schools and churches add a little education in entrepreneurship for the KIDS to the process? I guarantee that those fundraisers are not going to stop…. so lets build on THAT opportunity instead of removing a foundation math course for future INNOVATORS. 
 
Now back to geometry. In my 20+ years in the world of engineering, I have used geometry as a foundation in everything I do. And I have a very diverse background in engineering, including the oil industry. Geometry was a tough class in high school. Proving theorems was not my fave. But someone has had to prove mathematical concepts – as these are the foundation of everything we do in engineering and not just carpentry, but architecture, computer design (how do you think Apple fits all that cool stuff in your iPhone? and that is just talking spatial relationships, not all of the math behind the electronics design and function that is built on geometry).  
 
The key is to find better, more engaging ways to TEACH geometry so that entrepreneurs-to-be that don’t want to prove mathematical theorems as a career understand its value and how they in fact ARE using it in their everyday lives. Let’s better value and prepare those that will teach in our schools so that they can create engaging ways for our kids to learn math, and excel into a generation of world leaders in STEM fields. I guarantee China & India are NOT talking removing math from curricula. 
 
As to entrepreneurship, I think young people should learn LEADERSHIP by starting with the U.S. Army’s Principles of Leadership right out of the womb. I use this in my Engineering Project Management course, rewritten in civilian terms… and they can be applied to every arena of life and move us forward as a nation. We have this foundation with those that serve for our freedom. Let’s ALL learn and follow their example of leadership. 
 
In the meantime, I guarantee an innovative teacher could develop a course in the Geometry of Entrepreneurship. Sounds fun to me! Still gotta have that side-angle-side!
 
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and in later response to one who criticized those of the Piled Higher and Deeper group, even though his comments were along same lines of my view:
 
Actually, sir, in addition to the author you criticize, I too have a Ph.D. – and in Engineering – and also have 14 years of actual work experience (yes, often rare for those with Ph.D.s in the academic world). Of course, your point about reevaluation is valid, but please do not stereotype. I wade in the piled higher and deeper, but it took a helluva lot of work, and a lot of math founded on geometry…. calculus, physics, differential equations, transport phenomena, thermodynamics….. Yet, I do not claim to know it all either. Far from it. 
 
Nemko has charged a good argument and perhaps will stir some support for INCREASED attention to the needs of strong math skills of our students.  
 
As a graduate student at a top 20 university in engineering, I found the international students coming in with math knowledge skills well above and beyond my own. All of the American students had a lot of catching up to do to where they were. Knowledge is power, and other countries of the world have known this for years and are better ARMING their young people with the power of math knowledge. We should look to our military for guidance on leadership, but also should respect that knowledge of the powerful world of mathematics as a foundation for innovation and technology will be a key weapon in the success of our future to defend and build our country. 
 
I know you agree with this, and I also believe deep down Nemko knows this and has done a service in bringing this argument to the forefront. – USAstephanie, Ph.D. in Engineering
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