> Haim wrote: >> This is only to be expected, as I have asserted a few >> times, because there really are no important unresolved >> pedagogical issues in teaching mathematics, especially >> at the K-12 level. > > And that statement alone is perhaps the crux of the problem in the > forum. There are some here that believe the above statement to be > patently false. And then there are those who thoroughly believe > that statement to be true (as Haim clearly does). There can be no > true discussion when one (or both) side(s) feel they have the > Truth. There will be a lot of shouting and name-calling, as we have > seen, but little real conversation. > > I, for one, ask only for a place to converse with people searching > for better ways to teach content where the participants are open to > new ideas. In this forum it often feels more like I am trying to > convert someone from their religion.
I think where the problem comes in is when people who WANT to talk about teaching are quickly attacked for not using Saxon or Singapore Math and hence being "racists," or for not decrying every textbook written and published after some point in the early 1960s, etc. If there were clearly political threads for those who wanted to argue politics and people who wanted to be on those threads refrained from making the pedagogical ones into minefields, things would probably go reasonably well. However, as I recall, some people who were ostensibly on here for non-political discussion couldn't stand the fact that anyone was arguing intensely about other things on "their" list. Frankly, that's not reasonable. Political threads, like religious threads, like sports threads (The Red Sox SUCK!. No, they don't!) and like many other things that aren't about information but about heated opinions, are going to get intense. The well-known admonition about heat and staying out of the kitchen applies.
However, if the political threads were obviously political and the pedagogical ones obviously pedagogical, and those who feel obliged to make "everything" political agreed to refrain from arguing politics and trying to bait and inflame people who happen to want to talk about teaching issues, progressive or otherwise, and actually DID so refrain, then on my view you'd have a reasonable list. Anyone who couldn't stomach the political threads would have no grounds to complain about them.
You can't realistically mandate open-mindedness, of course. But you can make some things out of bounds. Accusations of racism that have nothing to ground them other than a negative opinion about a philosophy of education simply serve no positive purpose, though they most certainly are inflammatory. Similarly, coming onto a thread about issues of classroom teaching simply to argue that there are no open questions about mathematical pedagogy is not going to move forward the discourse that folks who would generally participate on such threads are looking for.
It's interesting and vaguely amusing to note that one group here is writing as if they've been rule-abiding citizens from the beginning and that if only the other guy(s) were blocked, all would be well. Yet, as recently as two weeks ago, when I voluntarily withdrew for about 5 days, we saw some of the same baiting, inflammatory posts from these people, epithets directed at me even though I wasn't posting or responding to posts, etc.,
And when there have been past efforts to restore some decorum here, there has been one person in particular who systematically refused to rein himself in. That none of his allies on this list would criticize what he was doing probably didn't help matters much.
I think that Jim is right in suggesting that if someone is dedicated to blocking free and collegial conversation about teaching math (math pedagogy, pedagogical content knowledge, etc.) things are going to go badly. And any serious look at how to make the list become more civil has to consider if those people are willing to allow that sort of conversation to go on without sabotage.
> > Ideally, in my mind, this forum would only be open to people open > to changing their mind on occasion (not that they have to - just be > open to the possibility). That is about as possible as the Pope > converting to Islam tomorrow, so I am fresh out of ideas. I am > curious to see what develops. > > Jim > >