I have a solid liberal arts education.  I also have a business education, and an education in applied statistics.  The FIRST place I learned statistics was in Sociology, where I also studied research methodology.  The second place was in Psychology, in which I minored.  The THIRD place was in my graduate program in Demography and Ecology..  The FOURTH place was in my MBA program, and the last place my PhD program in Applied Business Statistics.

We hear a lot of talk about "job oriented education" versus liberal arts education.  Really, however, most "job-oriented" education is a rehash of liberal arts courses.  After all, marketing is really just psychology, and market research simply getting inside the heads of consumers.  What is management?  Good management is also psychology.  Oddly enough, some of the same people I hear ranting about "psychobabble" spend hours of time each year attending "motivational seminars" and :"team building" exercises, both of which rely heavily on psychological principles.

One of my pet peeves on the internet is when I try to sign in to some website I've registered on but forgotten my password to, and I click the "Forgotten your password?" link, and I have to ENTER MY EMAIL ADDRESS AGAIN!  Ok so my programming education was not in the currently most popular languages, but surely it is still possible for the email address I already entered trying to sign in to be automatically transferred when I forget my password?  Or better yet, if I just click that link, shouldn't the program be able to pick up that information from my first attempt and simply email me the reset protocol from that?  It's little things like this that can drive a person up a wall.  My husband and I started talking about this and ended up deciding that there are countless programmers out there who are technically skilled -- they can write code quickly and effectively -- but lack the critical thinking skills to properly design the code to serve the user well. 

I have noticed a similar thing in market research studies.  They ask a lot of in depth questions without asking some of the most relevant ones.  I was disqualified from a study recently apparently on the basis of not having eaten at a particular restaurant.  Now if I were running a restaurant, I might indeed be interested in the impressions of it my customers have had and whether they would recommend my restaurant to others.  If I'm looking to grow my business, however, I would be more interested in why people who haven't eaten there have not eaten there!  In my case, I simply had never heard of it before.  I was curious enough after I was booted from the study to look it up online.  Turns out there's not a location close to my house, and perhaps I was booted for my zip code.  However, it is close to my doctors office, and when I go to see her, we usually stop in somewhere near her office for lunch.  I've been known to pick a place on the basis of the type of food, such as a Nigerian restaurant we passed, or simply on the basis of the sign outside saying Houston School District employees got a discount.  No, I'm not a school district employee, but I liked the attitude that sign represents!  If I truly was booted for not having eaten there, I think they might have done well to ask why, offering answer options such as "I've never heard of it."  "It's too far away."  "I think it's outside my price range."  "I don't like that kind of cuisine." or "I generally go to the same places I know I like."

"Liberal arts" does NOT mean "liberal perspective' (whatever that is, and I'm a liberal who knows a lot of other liberals who think differently than I do about a lot of things).  :"Liberal arts" means a wide sampling of disciplines:  literature, sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, "hard sciences," mathematics, languages, geography, philosophy, religion, fine arts, and yes, even some overviews of engineering, business, law, and medicine (at least at some universities).  

The study of literature teaches one to ask relevant questions.  So does the study of composition.  Great job interview and resume writing skills, without a special course in those skills.  Also technical writing, copy writing, and journalism skills.  I cringed the other day when I heard an ad on TV use "less" when the word "fewer should have been used.  I don't recall the product, but the line was something like "less outbreaks" or :less blemishes."  I actually hunched my shoulders and grimaced.  Want to bet the person who wrote that took a B school course in advertising specializing in copy writing?  Gosh,  I learned that in grammar and composition in my liberal program!  Yes, poor grammar gives me a bad impression of a product, person, or company.  Come on, admit it, it does you too.  Ever gotten an email that says "Congratulation!"  Don't you think "scam!"  Sure you do, because any reputable business would use the "s" on the end oof that word.

So before you nod your head next time someone bashes liberal arts, ask yourself this critical question:  Do I think for myself, or just believe what someone else with an agenda says because I agree with their agenda?
I learned to read between the ages of 2 and 3.  My maternal grandfather, my beloved DeeDee, taught me to play dominoes before he died when I was 4.  My parents took me to symphonies (classical music in early childhood seems to have a relationship with academic success later in life, especially math).  When I started kindergarten, I was already through most of the Nancy Drew novels.  When I reached first grade, the teacher recommended that I be moved into 2nd grade after 6 weeks. I was and there it was that my teacher told my parents I had an uncanny math ability.  

While various poor teachers nearly sabotaged my math performance, and undoubtedly sabotaged my self-confidence in the subject, I eventually ended up in a graduate program (PhD) in Applied Statistics, where a professor told me I had the greatest natural heuristic abillity he'd ever seen.

I taught statistics as a college instructor, business math, and later in a private grades 6-12 school, geometry and algebra.  I have tutored people from age 5 to 55 all along the way.  So I know a little something about math, and about learning math.  I also know something about the FEAR of math, particularly algebra.  It is with that, and the latest report on the US performance in math and reading that came out today,  that I am creating yet another page to this website entitled The Math Language.  There I will post reports on math performance, resources for parents and students, hints, tips, tricks, and the occasional rant :).    I hope you enjoy it, use it if you need it, and leave me some comments please!