Requiem for a Mathematician, and for an Education System

Oded Schramm was an awe-inspiring mathematician. His death at the age of 46, in a climbing accident in Washington State, is sad in all the ways a normal life cut short is sad. The discoveries he would have made and never got to are only a small piece of the sadness. The mathematician, after all, was also a person, a husband and a father. As a small comfort, the last 26 years of his life were apparently a miracle: According to the Ha’aretz obit, in 1982, during the war in Lebanon, his tank took a direct hit. Somehow he survived.

Reading Schramm’s foreshortened biography made me think about Israeli education. He was born in Jerusalem, went to school here, got his BA and MA from Hebrew U. Given the condition of Israeli schools today, will they produce more Schramms?

As reported last week, Israel’s underfunded school system gets terrible marks from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development:

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