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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Why France's Best Mathematician Is Optimistic About Critical Thinking | Education - Forbes

Math is a laboratory for better thinking. That is the argument of Cedric Villani, one of the world’s most famous mathematicians, inform Helen Lee Bouygues, writes about critical thinking in education.

As a teacher, Villani has found math to have similar effects on students. The topic gives young people a way to think more effectively.
Photo: Reboot Foundation
In 2010, at the age of 37, Villani won the Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in math. He went on to write a best-selling memoir, travel the world as a math-and-science ambassador and, in 2017, he was elected to France’s National Assembly.

Villani is sometimes called the “Lady Gaga” of math. Bearded and long-haired, he typically wears a three-piece suit, a lavallière (a cross between a cravat and a bow tie) and a spider brooch on his lapel. But most importantly, Villani is an educator. Aside from being a longtime professor, he served for years as the director of the Henri Poincaré Institute, the math-research arm of the Sorbonne.

Mathematics is a school for thinking,” Villani explained. “It teaches you rigor, for sure. Everybody knows that. But maybe most importantly, it forces you to be imaginative because you have to find somewhere tools and strategies to solve problems. And it also teaches you tenacity. From an early age, I was spending these long hours and sometimes days in search for the proof or solution to a problem.”...

In recent years, Villani has been deeply concerned about the proliferation of fake news. “A few years ago, when there was the dissemination of the Internet and rapid connection from anyplace to anyplace, we thought that information would progress and that truth would be more easy to establish,” he said. “In fact, it was quite the opposite: We saw that fake news, distorted news, manipulation was extremely efficient, more efficient than the truth in many cases, and we underestimated the distortion that would be caused by the human interaction with the news.”
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Source: Forbes