
Snake oil and apricot pits
Posted:
Aug 17, 1999 7:58 PM


If a wife or other relative or just anybody off the street had a serious cancer, but one nonetheless curable, I would raise bloody hell if someone came around selling them snake oil or apricot pits as curatives. Apparently Steinbok thinks if it is not my cancer or if it is only my cancer or constructivist class, I should keep quiet without the formal credentials that he judges as valid. Steinbok of course, and others, are selling the apricot pit of constructivism and thus they scream bloody murder when someone apertains that it is of little more efficacy than apricot pits. Because they apparently have an investment in constructivism they want to deny, as Steinbok does when he denigrates my lack of math degrees, someone can get behind the socalled "math" of constructivism and analyze it from the more basic position of scientific methodology and having approached it from that position in the first place not bought into it at all. After all Steinbok, constructivism as an idea is not itself math but only an idea about how to teach math. Really Steinbok, what you are saying, is that I should look the other way at the fact that the mostly Black members of that class, already in remedial work because of the racist past (And present) of our school system, and let folks like you continue to victimize them simply because I don't have the formal degrees that give you and mystical types like Zim cachet in the "education" community. Really Steinbok, when you start saying "Jack should have the curtesy of butting out from discussions where he does not belong" you are telling me how close you are to a culture of fascist education where only the annointed shall be heard. I see no point in talking with someone like you. What is of concern is that few here oppose you or Zim's nonesense which goes a long way toward explaining the degredation of the U.S. educational system.
j.
On 17 Aug 99, Victor Steinbok wrote re. The GRNAD FINALE: A Jack in every stable:
> I guess, there is no time like the present and I must respond to the > latest round of lunatic rants before this forum gets shut down by > divine interference (I wish!). Zim's nonsense notwithstanding, I > believe anyone who got a CS degree in 1979 (math minor or not) got a > better math education than quite a few people with math degrees since > then. I cannot judge the actual quality of Zim's mathematical > knowledge, but for me it suffices that the mere quantity is > considerably greater than Jack's, and Jack should have the curtesy of > butting out from discussions where he does not belongnot as a > teacher, not as a math practicioner of any sort and not as a parent. > If he wants to take issue with the course he apparently detested, this > is not a proper forum for that. > > Zim's "math" is not dangerous. It is not anything I would consider > teachable, nor is it "art" as Zim seems to insist. I am not about to > infringe on his beliefshe can hold whatever etherial opinions he > wishes. There is little danger they will pursuade any students to drop > whatever they doing and join the Creative Math cult. And as long as > Zims of this Cult do not ask for support money to develop teaching > materials, I am not worried. > > However, the discussion that followed the original post was not any > better. I've known a few Euclids and Newtons, but none of them were > also named Leibniz (some of their pets were, but that's another > story). So I am working on the assumption that Newton Leibniz, or > simply Newty, wants his name hidden for whatever purposes. In this > case either his pseudonim has gone to his head or he expects us all to > be telepathic. However, his fear of me accusing him of little > knowledge were unfoundedmy jab indeed was to Jack alone (perhaps Zim > deserves it too, but Jack's ignorance is considerably more obvious). > > On 15 Aug 99, Newton Leibniz wrote re. Huh? Whatchu talking about > Willis?: > > > Vic, > > > > In the past three days I have seen postings which do not make any > > sense: Zim's mathematics and now yours. Please answer these > questions > > as clearly and to the point as possible: > > > > 1. Which person are you referring to that doesn't know any math: Zim > > or Jack? While Zim has an undergraduate minor in mathematics, I > would > > say that Jack has a better understanding of the mathematics he > knows. > > Or are you referring to me? That would be down right hilarious. > > I believe I've answered this question above. > > > 2. What do you mean by "doing what math is all about"? Do you even > > know what you just said? I am really interested in your answer. > > I know exactly what I said, and I did not imply that Zim in any way is > doing math. Just last week several professional mathematicians argued > about whether a "function" can have nonnumeric values (all seem to > have accepted the possibility of nonnumeric arguments). The > invocation of Bourbaki made some cheer and some shudder. The issue was > settled simply by sayng that the Bourbaki required definition does not > limit the scope of values, but, for practical purposes, most of the > time when we refer to functions, we actually mean numericallyvalued > functions. So, for example, an X>R2 function can always be > interpreted as a pair of X>R1 functions and satisfy both > definitions. Now, people like Jack and the clique down in San Diego > would have us believe that such a discussion is not POSSIBLE in > mathematics because the Divine Immutable Mathematics has been handed > down to Moses to Plato to Newton and Leibniz (who had a debate that > would rival any current scientific disagreement) to Newton Leibniz, > Wayne Bishop (or what have you) and it is to be transmitted unchanged > to Jack and his ilk. All mathematical definitions are written in > stone. In fact, it was a great loss when we stopped teaching Euclidean > Geometry in schools and simply started calling it Geometry. > > Take a look at the old Cambridge schoolarship examinations, say from > mid1800. You will find that half the questions would look like "State > Proposition X" or "Prove Theorems V and IX". When I first saw this, I > was puzzled, but it soon dawned on me that the references were to the > Elements. With time, however, these types of questions have > disappeared from the examinations because that is NOT HOW MATHEMATICS > WAS DONE and perceived. > > > 3. People who think math can be taught and learned in only one way > are > > probably dangerous. However, I have never seen Jack post any such > > statement. What I have seen Jack post is many many statements about > > the dangers of teaching mathematics in ONE particular way  > > constructivism. > > This statement to me is a display of ignoranceconstructivism is NOT > a way of teaching mathematics. At best, it is a learning theory or a > cognitive philosophy. Jack has been ranting and raving about his > "constructivist" class for nearly a year now. I can only assume that > both he and his instructor are deeply misguided. There is indeed a > great danger posed by people who profess to criticize something they > know nothing about. The really scary part is that a large number of > teachers interpret "constructivism" to be what people like you tell > them it is, but instead of agreeing with you, they proceed to teach > following exactly the principles you detest. > > It is particularly ignorant to talk of ONE WAY OF TEACHING under > constructivism, since ANY flavour of constructivist philosophy will > tell you that it is not possible. Instead of reading the fluffy > textbooks that are churned out by the likes of Addison Wesley, you > should brush up on the basics and go back to the research sources > rather than to their lessthanstellar textbook incarnations. > > > 4. What do you mean by finding allies with the Kansas state board of > > education? The state board removed the teachings of evolution from > > the curriculum so that teachers could construct creationism if they > so > > chose. I do not think he would find any allies, only enemies since > > Jack is proposing that we teach science that is based on the > > observable physical world. Under that premise, one must conclude > that > > evolution is the best working model we have and any other working > > model is vastly inferior. > > While Jack's selfprofessed materialism would greatly offend their > sensibilities, Jack and the KBE share an intolerance for things they > do not understand (or, more accurately, refuse to understand). > > > Thank you Vic for providing another prime example of cloudy, > > confusing, non logical writing. Once again I leave you with > questions > > to ponder, but this time they are directed at Vic and I expect > > answers. > > You want cloudy? Gee... My original post took up scant six lines. > Since then Jack has provided voluminous irrelevant drivel in multiple > copies with Newty chiming in his 2cworth. For what it's worth, if > Newty expects a polite private response to his accusations, he should > provide his electronic coordinates and a real name. > > VS) > >

