today I had a talk with a friend which told me that according to him, it is possible to "destroy" someone's abilities in doing maths for his entire life: take the person at age 5, learn him something totally wrong (for instance that the digits used for decimal numeration system are in order something like 8, 5, 4, 9, 2, 3, 0, 6, 1, 7 and call them respectively "three", "seven", "one", "six" and so on) so that once the wrong information has been assimilated in the long-term memory, it would be impossible for the person to correct and "overwrite" something that has been learn by heart.

Of course this example is exaggerated, but I was wondering whether this would explain some difficulties with people writing hundreds of time the same mathematical errors like (a+b)^2=a^2+b^2 and other stuff like this, even after many mathematical teachers explain them they are wrong (my assumption here is that the "correct" way has not reach yet the long term memory, so it would done less harm than in the first situation).

Do you agree with this idea or it has been challenged by cognitive studies? I'd be very happy with more readings; thanks in advance for your comments and suggested readings if you have :)


closed as off-topic by JMoravitz, user7530, Raskolnikov, Clayton, Lord Shark the Unknown Jan 12 '18 at 18:37

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about mathematics, within the scope defined in the help center." – JMoravitz, user7530, Raskolnikov, Clayton, Lord Shark the Unknown
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close because, while a somewhat interesting topic, this question is not really withing the scope of mathematics, or even mathematics education (it's more developmental psychology). $\endgroup$ – user7530 Jan 12 '18 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ No I doubt it. The error you speak of is famous and many people make that error. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 12 '18 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. I'll try my luck on stack exchange, not only math $\endgroup$ – Mathieu Dity Jan 12 '18 at 18:46

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