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Topic: Creative Math. on Zim Mathematics Web Site
Replies: 40   Last Post: Mar 8, 2003 12:15 PM

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Newton Leibniz

Posts: 10
Registered: 12/8/04
My last reply to Vic.
Posted: Aug 19, 1999 11:42 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

The following points are taken in order from Vic's `answers' to my
questions (which I have copied for everyone below):

1. You are a hypocrite. With one hand you say that you are not going
to infringe on Zim’s beliefs about something that is verifiably false,
yet with the other you try to infringe as much as possible on Jack’s
ideas which are based on reason. Its okay for Zim to have opinions
but its not okay that Jack has opinions too.

2. I am in no fear of your accusations. I would merely find it very
humorous if you had. By the way, mere quantity has absolutely
nothing to do with quality. Zim could probably fill pages of
unintelligible chatter (Zim: go back to school – you will thank me
later for the suggestion). Zim may have the minor, but I would hire

3. Let me assure you that those were not professional mathematicians
(where they math ed?). A function is a mapping from a set A to a set
B with the property that each element in A is mapped onto exactly one
element in B. Now to debate whether sets A or B are numerical is
simply silly and ignorant. By the very definition A and B can be any
two sets. For example, A could be U.S. senators and B could be U.S.
states. No numerals there. It is so basic that every high school
algebra teacher knows this. Why would `professional mathematicians’
debate a definition which is already general enough to handle what
they were debating about?

4. Based on (3) the discussion is not possible. Mathematics is a
logical system. Once inside the system, everything in mathematics has
a well-defined meaning derived from set theory. Therefore, all
definitions are written `in stone’ inside that system. The reason
why we choose to use this system (and not another logical system) is
because it is the most useful of all logical systems. It is so
useful, for instance, that we are within a 100 years of understanding
the basic set of equations (Grand Unified Theory) which describe the
universe. The body of mathematics is one of the crowning achievements
of mankind and should be passed down through the generations much as
you describe.

5. Euclid’s books `The Elements’ were in fact the primary textbooks
for elementary students for some 2000 years. They truly are
masterpieces. The reason why we stopped using them is not the reason
you describe above (MATHEMATICS IS DONE THAT WAY). It was because the
great mathematician David Hilbert reorganized the textbooks (around
1899) to bring them up to modern standards. We know more than Euclid
did and professor Hilbert used that knowledge to upgrade Euclid’s text
- Professor Hilbert basically wrote the second edition.

6. The problem with constructivism is that it has many definitions
(remember me talking about ill-defined concepts?). So if you
disagree with my use of the word constructivism, you can always choose
one of the other definitions and then proceed to call me ignorant.
Let me clarify for you my use of the word `constructivism.’ Obviously
I wasn’t using the definitions such as trivial constructivism, or
radical constructivism, or social constructivism (oops….maybe old
Newty isn’t so ignorant about this stuff). If you want a critique of
constructivism at that level, I highly suggest you read the paper by
the Nobel piece price winner I mentioned in a previous post. I was
referring to `Applied Constructivism’ or how constructivism is applied
in the classroom (and yes, it is often referred to in the math ed.
literature as a way of teaching). This constructivism is what Jack
was a victim of and what you tried to distance yourself from by saying
his teacher was misguided. Here is the part I always love to rub in
constructivism’s face: Since constructivism (philosophically) says
that students must construct their own knowledge it implies
immediately that no one can instruct a teacher how to use
constructivism in the classroom (if you did, you would be
contradicting the theory). They must be allowed to construct their
own knowledge just as their students must. For instance, Jack’s
teacher constructed his own knowledge of constructivism and therefore
should be looked upon as a valid form of applied constructivism (since
it was constructed) whether you think it is misguided or not. If
this upsets you (and I am sure it does), then you are starting to feel
the rage that most mathematicians get when they hear stories of
children who are allowed to construct inherently wrong mathematics in
classrooms run using constructivism. What is so humorous is that the
constructivist philosophers are not even immune to their own theory.
But since it is their theory, they shouldn’t wine when it is applied
correctly to produce principles which they detest - unless, of course,
the theorist are willing to admit that their theory is wrong.

Now that you know the definition of constructivism I was using it is
clear what I meant when I said `one way.’ Applied constructivism is
a way of teaching which includes several teaching methods just like
Direct Instruction is a way of teaching which includes several
teaching methods. You were associating `teaching methods’ with `way’
to get that there was one teaching method called constructivism. I
hope this clears up that misunderstanding.

7. Many cloudy and illogical things can be said in a scant six lines
(yours was an example). The amount of lines does not tell the reader
if the body of the text is logical or not, much like the volume of
mathematics does not imply anything about the quality of the
mathematics (see #2 above). To paraphrase a character in a recent
movie about conflict in space, "knowing how to write does not imply
the writer is intelligent." While brevity is a virtue in writing,
sometimes it takes time to fully develop an idea (like #6 above).

8. I will stay anonymous for my own reasons. For all you know I could
be a senator, doctor, lawyer, mathematician, teacher, parent, or like
Jack, just a concerned citizen. I am not interested in polite private
responses and prefer to keep the dialogue as open and logical as
possible. If that means attacking the credibility of a philosophy by
critically analyzing the writings of its proponents then so be it.
But lately this seems to be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
Therefore I have no more questions for you Vic. Give me some time and
in a couple of weeks I will write up some really good questions I have
about the NCTM standards and why it is tied to ways of teaching (like
constructivism) instead of being tied to the content students should

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

> 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

> butting out from discussions where he does not belong--not 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,

> 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 beliefs--he can hold whatever etherial opinions he
> wishes. There is little danger they will pursuade any students to

> 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

> be telepathic. However, his fear of me accusing him of little
> knowledge were unfounded--my jab indeed was to Jack alone (perhaps

> 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:

> > 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
> > 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

> doing math. Just last week several professional mathematicians
> about whether a "function" can have non-numeric values (all seem to
> have accepted the possibility of non-numeric arguments). The
> invocation of Bourbaki made some cheer and some shudder. The issue

> settled simply by sayng that the Bourbaki required definition does
> limit the scope of values, but, for practical purposes, most of the
> time when we refer to functions, we actually mean numerically-valued
> 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

> to Jack and his ilk. All mathematical definitions are written in
> stone. In fact, it was a great loss when we stopped teaching

> Geometry in schools and simply started calling it Geometry.
> Take a look at the old Cambridge schoolarship examinations, say from
> mid-1800. You will find that half the questions would look like

> Proposition X" or "Prove Theorems V and IX". When I first saw this,
> was puzzled, but it soon dawned on me that the references were to
> Elements. With time, however, these types of questions have
> disappeared from the examinations because that is NOT HOW

> 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

> > the dangers of teaching mathematics in ONE particular way --
> > constructivism.

> This statement to me is a display of ignorance--constructivism is

> 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 less-than-stellar textbook incarnations.

> > 4. What do you mean by finding allies with the Kansas state board
> > education? The state board removed the teachings of evolution
> > the curriculum so that teachers could construct creationism if
> so
> > chose. I do not think he would find any allies, only enemies
> > 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 self-professed 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

> copies with Newty chiming in his 2c-worth. For what it's worth, if
> Newty expects a polite private response to his accusations, he

> provide his electronic coordinates and a real name.
> VS-)

Date Subject Author
Read Creative Math. on Zim Mathematics Web Site
Zim Olson
Read Good intentions, but `Zim mathematics' is not mathematics.
Newton Leibniz
Read I see wholes in all Mathematical theory also
Zim Olson
Read Math and the dangerous Mr. Zim Olsen
Jack Jersawitz
Read dangerous ideas
Victor Steinbok
Read Huh? Whatchu talking about Willis?
Newton Leibniz
Read The central question
Jack Jersawitz
Read dangerous ideas and dangerous "mathematicians"
Jack Jersawitz
Read dangerous ideas and dangerous "mathematicians"
Jack Jersawitz
Read Mathematics and theory of knowledge
Jack Jersawitz
Read Math. Art dangerous to NCTM???!
Zim Olson
Read A full blown example
Jack Jersawitz
Read The GRAND FINALE to this topic!
Newton Leibniz
Read Why a Creative Axiom for Mathematics
Zim Olson
Read The pity of it is..
Jack Jersawitz
Read I'll buy that
Jack Jersawitz
Read The GRNAD FINALE: A Jack in every stable
Victor Steinbok
Read Snake oil and apricot pits
Jack Jersawitz
Read Snake oil and apricot pits
Jack Jersawitz
Read My last reply to Vic.
Newton Leibniz
Read Nonetheless
Jack Jersawitz
Read The straw man
Steve Jystad
Read Response to S. Jystad Part I
Newton Liebniz
Read Response to S. Jystad Part II
Newton Leibnitz
Read And classroom examples
Jack Jersawitz
Read And classroom examples
Jack Jersawitz
Read Re: The straw man
Read The GRNAD FINALE: A Jack in every stable
Victor Steinbok
Read Re: Math. Art dangerous to NCTM???! w/ new web address.
Zim Olson
Read Math. Art dangerous to NCTM???!
Zim Olson
Read Your philosophy site
Kirby Urner
Read Lack of Standard for Creative Mathematics for NCTM
Zim Olson
Read Re: Creative Math. on Zim Mathematics Web Site
Read Explanation of some of Zim's ideas.
Zim Olson
Read Re: Explanation of some of Zim's ideas.
Read Further explanation: Old paper of mine, 1997.
Zim Olson
Read Another example, Creative Math, Old Paper of Zim's Apr. 2000
Zim Olson
Read Re: Creative Math. on Zim Mathematics Web Site
Jack Jersawitz
Read System - Subsystem; Hierarchy & Definition. Answer attempt
Zim Olson
Read Re: Creative Math. on Zim Mathematics Web Site.(New Address)
Zim Olson
Read New Zim Mathematics Web Site
Zim Olson

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