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We Tell Students To Distrust Common Sense, Then We Criticize Them For Their Inability To Use Common Sense: a Comment on Archiv:1003.4288

Authors: Ron Bourgoin

The authors of Archiv:1003.4288 study a student named "Jim". "Jim" displays a propensity for believing his mathematical solutions rather than what his common sense tells him. He is a student taking an introductory physics class. The authors wonder why mathematical solutions take precedence over common sense. In this brief note we cite as the root cause of the problem the fact that we tell our students to distrust their common sense. When we arrive at relativity theory, for example, we inform our students that common sense is useless in relativity theory. We tell them that common sense is useless in quantum mechanics. Is it any wonder our students believe whatever the math tells them?

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Submission history

[v1] 3 Mar 2010

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