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I asked a question about the possibility of writing a good mathematical textbook which consists of series of exercises(it contains no proofs and the readers are expected to prove all the propositions which are carefully chosen and ordered, and are simple enough). I got several useful comments and answers. However, it was closed for a reason I could not understand. Moreover it seems to be removed(I cannot find it). I would like to know the reasons for the closure and the removal.

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    $\begingroup$ Just to check: you're not thinking of this question, are you? $\endgroup$ – Nate Eldredge Sep 19 '12 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean this question?. I found this by looking at high negative vote totals on your user page. $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Sep 19 '12 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato The link shows (for 10K+ users) that the question was deleted in the normal manner, that is by 3 high rep users. They apparently felt it was not an appropriate question for the site, and I am inclined to agree with them. It could potentially be undeleted by the agreement of 3 high-rep users, but I find that unlikely and would not support it personally. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker Sep 19 '12 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ ..but...without the proofs you will never understand why you are studying something... $\endgroup$ – user1729 Sep 19 '12 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 What are you talking about? $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Sep 19 '12 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ I voted to delete because the question was not great to begin with (therefore it was closed), and after closing it the thread just degenerated to edits of the type "But why is this thread closed?", which only worsened the situation. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Sep 19 '12 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Why should a question be deleted just because it is not great? $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Sep 19 '12 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Makoto, Asaf didn't say a question should be deleted just because it is not great. Asaf said your question was deleted because it started out not great and then got worse. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 19 '12 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729: This is a meta thread about why the question was deleted, not a thread to actually discuss the deleted topic. $\endgroup$ – user14972 Sep 19 '12 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ I tried to be polite, so I said not great. If you want me to be honest, the comment might be offensive to some people and I prefer not to do it. The question was bad and got closed, then it became a long list of EDIT: What is the reason for closing? sort of thread. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Sep 19 '12 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think I can explain in a way you will understand. Have a nice day. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Sep 20 '12 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ Makoto, I guess I did not make myself clear, so I'll try again: Asaf said your question was deleted because it started out not great AND THEN GOT WORSE. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 20 '12 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, Makoto, I didn't notice that in a thread titled "Why was my question removed" we were actually discussing why your question was closed. Seems inconsistent with "one thing at a time," no? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 20 '12 at 13:07
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Please don't use the bold face capital letters. That is rude. It is even more so as you didn't read my question carefully. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Sep 21 '12 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ You're right, Makoto, I didn't read your question carefully. Now that I have, I'm puzzled by your "One thing at a time" comment. It seems inconsistent with asking simultaneously about closure and removal. Wouldn't "one thing at a time" suggest asking about the closure only, and waiting until that was settled before asking about the removal? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 21 '12 at 23:17
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I'm a new user here, but apparently your question is too subjective. There is no fixed answer! Everyone's experiences differs throughout his academic life. Stack Exchange do not encourage this kind of never-ending debates. It's like asking, mathematics philosophical questions, like "Is infinity a number?"Anyway, my feelings on your question. Here goes. I feel very strongly about this subject matter, of teaching pedagogy. I'm an asian chinese student at a singaporean university. Do note that Singapore scores very high or top regularly at international tests for maths, but yet, there is a glaring dearth of mathematics research in the country.

Before I entered university, I was schooled in a curriculum that uses "good mathematical textbook which consists of series of exercises(it contains no proofs and the readers are expected to prove all the propositions which are carefully chosen and ordered, and are simple enough)". That killed my critical thinking skills and mathematical creativity. I was literally like a machine, give me a question and I could churn out an answer, like a calculator. Each textbook had close to a 1000 exercise. I finished them all. Note that I also never seen the symbol, infinity, in my textbook before entering a U.

But I never understood the concepts behind it. I may be getting full scores for my SAT and A Levels, but only because I am a calculator, not a mathematician. Once you had a non-conventional question to hand to me, my brain will give you an error message. When I attempt a question, I expect a fixed solution for it. I cannot think laterally. Definition-Theorem-Proof-Repeat. I am suffering heavily now at University.

Conclusion? If you are aiming for a society of robot labour (Engineers maybe?), these textbooks are great for pushing students though the system. (Singapore is a country of workers, not thinkers. Look at our research in any field.) If you want a society of thinkers, you need textbooks and Teachers. more orientiated towards understanding.

Do note that I'm assuming proofing encourages critical and creative thinking, which in my opinion, it does.

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you give us an example of an exercise you did? $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Sep 28 '12 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't go as far as to say that I only did these kind of rote questions all my life, there were some thinking questions too, but I feel that they were in much less quantities then compared to the syllabus of other countries, say US. I was introduced calculus at 16 years old, and was told to just differentiate and integrate, without ever knowing why my power decreased by 1 and the power has to become the coefficient. Never touched limits before until university. I'll dig for an example later, kinda busy now. $\endgroup$ – Yellow Skies Sep 28 '12 at 2:01

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