> Yes parents do need to reclaim their heritage and > stand proud! Our country's founding fathers would > support the philosophy of successful democratic > charter schools. >
As I've explained to the local paper, all schools are charter schools in the sense of originating with some kind of charter. The term "charter school" is actually somewhat redundant, kind of like "restaurant that serves food" (admittedly many only serve "food").
> I, as you know do support the formation of new > charters, however, right along side of this, I support > the notion that school boards should develop > policies that include well crafted mechanisms to > evaluate school's operations and then terminate the > ones that are not working.
Yeah, this gets to be political. Radio stations go through hoops too, any body serving the general public, with tax funding especially, needs to keep proving itself. Getting a charter takes work. Keeping it takes work.
> One referrence from a math-teach I members was about > all the "horrid" charter schools they knew about. I > ask, "What exactly makes them do "horrid"? We could > call them "inadequate" and look for mechanisms that > might make them adequate.... >
Once you just think in terms of "public schools" (all of which have charters, some much older and more discriminating in terms of screening procedures e.g. just because you're in some union doesn't mean you know geek math well enough to teach in a geek hogwarts) then it becomes easier to see "horrid" schools everywhere you look, some with charters going back 100 years or more.
> About the gruel - students must eat (math) to be > successful in math. The question is how is it feed to > them, and what and how many 21st century condiments > such as GNU Math should be added in at which point, > and why? > (not why GNU math, but why add what at which point) >
On a geeky digital math track, a laptop is like a guitar, a geek like a Nashville wannabe, or gottabe, or maybe is one (a star). Specialized charters focused around music, and yet publicly embraced, part of the bigger system, are not unheard of. A gnu math school is like one of those, even shares a lot of that focus (on music, because of notation, algorithms, looping, the mathematics of frequencies, harmonies...).
For those just joining, GNU is Richard Stallman's answer to overly copy-protective administrators and lawyers who weren't actually doing the hard work of development. Geeks decided to build their own culture (of world domination) from the inside out, based on a new suite of tools branded GNU, for GNU is not Unix. Much later, the trademark owners of the original Unix (Bell Labs then AT&T I think it went), sold that trademark to a company called SCO, which had been Linux friendly, but was scared about IBM becoming such a huge committer (of new source). SCO claimed, as owners of the Unix trademark, entitlement to licensing fees from such as Novell, RedHat, the Kremlin, universities... anyone enjoying the benefits of geek hard labor in the mines. FreeBSD would then be the only truly free alternative. SCO is no more (part of our lore).
> In my opinion, there are those type of learners who > can take the gruel as is
Oh yes, these are the good doobies with high patience and high tolerance and high empathy for the math teacher. Many like the role of "math teacher" and grow into being one, which is not necessarily a bad outcome. However, in the ethnicity I'm talking about, our "math teachers" all know how to program (know computer languages) and teach that kind of literacy as a part of passing on their geek heritage ("geek" is a subspecies of engineer in this context, associated with using open source or at least being fluent in what that's about).
> - the same way it has been traditionally fed to > students and they still construct their own learning. > These audio type learners who do well with lectures > and are the ones most commonly looked at as successful > in Math.
What we're getting off the math track these days are way too few and far between, the pickings are slim, and we go overseas. I'm talking about PhDs now, who may not thrive at Intel, because they're not geeks, just sheep in wolves' clothing. The K-12 math pipeline is broken, everyone agrees (including Obama sysadmins), ripe for overhaul. Adding a digital math track is not much to ask, and pair teaching is another great way to bring down those ratios, ala Gates Foundation. Paul Allen's ops help with Saturday Academy. We have lots of casinos. Money isn't the problem. Qualified personnel... we have those too, they're just not currently employed by the public school system, which has firewalled itself in, with universities the rank and file defending army (aka gulag professoriate - -- not necessarily the best fighters, even in legitimate debate (Supreme Court better, as one would expect)).
> Other learners need more visuals to "get it." Other > type learners benefit from working in small groups to > solve problems. The key, I think, is to find out what > works for which students and modify instruction on the > fly accordingly. Assessment, Assessment and more > assessment.
Like if the kids don't know what GNU means by 3rd grade, maybe do a peer swap among teachers, get some retraining credits pronto, as this school is falling waaaaay behind.
> All work whether oral or written should be treated as > assessment in my opinion. We as educators need to know > when students are not "getting it" on an on going > basis. I personally value on-going verbal assessments > and lots of student interaction in the learning process > - I use worksheets but would not want to see myself as > a "worksheet pusher" only. ( I find myself in the active > learning camp.) >
I'm not focused on students so much as teachers. I run an "underground railroad" with other engineers, to help students escape their dark ages vortex, if their inner geek decides it might want to stay in Portland and work at ESI or one of those (Applied Materials....). Or maybe you wanna be a doctor? In that case, better learn about CouchDB and Google App Engine and all that good stuff, starting early. Don't wait for Cal Tech or Stanford or whatever. We have Linus Pauling connections of our own, and LEP High was created by Stanfords top education grads, so we're set. Alaska is looking to Oregon for some input and that's a good sign. It's Lower48 I really worry about, as I get the feeling from conferences that we have a lot of geek parents out there, and they see what I see, an oppressed minority that is forced to teach its young without much help from Uncle Sam *and* it pays taxes for schools that don't do that job. We're talking bigotry and discrimination. Geeks of the world unite, and get your own charters enacted -- we have the same rights as anyone else, to use North America as our platform (Mormons a good model in some ways, or Jehovah's Witnesses maybe).
> I assert that all student work should be considered > as assessment, the data compiled and instruction > refined with a sense of knowing specific student > achievement levels and specific plans on how to raise > them. >
We look for a student who builds a portfolio. Some charters (i.e. public schools) have Python user groups, lets say, and so know about Vern Ceder, our judge between Pycons. He can help with your career by accepting a poster for display at a Hyatt or one of those, top ranking MVP geeks sipping Pepsi and taking 'em all in, writing down names. You don't even have to fly there yourself, as you might live in far away Bahrain and not want to expose yourself to that R-rated environment (Pythoneers tend to get raunchy sometimes, especially around cute little ponies -- long story). Lots of Monty Python type humor and heritage (TV-14).
> Now that I say the gruel needs to be fed to our > students, keep in mind, that I am not saying that is > the only diet needed. We do need our youth come to > the workplace prepared to hold 21st Century positions > - we need to offer a diet of GNU Math as well.
I'm not saying every school in the country needs to uphold the same standards. That'd be hypocritical of me, as I pound the table on the side of diversity, am against mono-culture, hate the idea of "fast food LA" thinking its way of teaching anything should spread beyond that crater to the south. I'm content to let Portlandia's brew be very localized and specific, very "place based", such that it'd make sense to only excerpt, not transplant en toto, what we're teaching. There's nothing wrong with localizing the curriculum to feature local history and geography. That's the first thing imperial-minded types want to wipe out, as we saw when those Euros first got here. But those days are over and there's nothing to stop Kalamath or Warm Springs from hosting a Python conference. "Casino math" is a legitimate form of probability teaching and some of our top teachers could code you a __slots__ machine in their sleep (insider joke, check Philippines User Group for recent discussion).
> > Kirby I thank you for opening my eyes to this. > Exactly how to incorporate GNU Math into the gruel is > something I know you have been working on and thank you > for continuing the effort... >
Yes, you have visited our think tank, as have Josh Cronemeyer and Amber Case recently, new recruits to the Pauling House, hope we'll see more of both, and you when you've got time for Kennedy School or whatever. That management training we got on your last visit, from one of the best in the business (Helen), was really swell.
> Personally, I do not like the label "gruel" - I offer > "math delights" as an alternative.
Sounds equally wretched, I agree, like buggers.
> "Gruel" is a label for something yukky - something no > one wants to eat.
Exactly. To a real geek, what they teach in "math class" around the states is worse than pablum, it's like IT&T Wonderbread minus all the 12 body building ingredients. You grow up using Access in a corporate cube farm with mush for brains, eating fast food, worse than Neverland. You can't code in any language, probably can't play any instrument, have never heard of GNU or Unicode. "Believe it or not" I tell my wide eyed students... a lot of them don't, I can tell.
> I think that depends a lot on *how* we try to feed our > students - we want them to eat more so they can be > successful.
And our answer is "with new charters that let geeks do the math teaching, along with some of the other teaching."
At LEP High, we teach the history of hip hop. Is that just a stupid side show? No, that's integral to getting a grasp on this country.
Per lots of old rhetoric in this archive, my model of a public education system in the USA is it provides the kind of training one would need if one intended to become a president of the United States someday. That's a criterion we use. So that means worldly, aware of other cultures and lifestyles, not living in a cave. For that reason alone, you'd think we'd have moved on from those calculators by now. We're glad to have a geek president (Obama) in any case, as that's giving our subculture more attention, as the oppressed minority that it is (they take our taxes, but they won't teach our math).
> So, why not offer "Math Delight" the more you eat the > more you want? We want
Some all you can eat thing?
> our students to become obsessed with wanting to > construct more learning not > dreading that it is time to go to math class again. >
Some will dread the outdoor aspects of geocaching. You probably don't finish our course if you don't do the ropes piece, or whatever obstacles. Of course you may have physical disabilities that prevent you from "doing the math" as we say, and I'm all for IEPs (individualized education plans). It's *not* one size fits all. But it's also not about just sitting on your butt and wiggling a pencil, pretending that's all there is to it. Not in our charters it's not. Kids in the K-12 age range need a lot of physical activity. What we do to their bodies, in the name of "learning", is really disturbing to the medical profession especially. We'll be getting lots of funding from doctor groups if my planning pays off.
> As to "Math is Hard" - to some it is. But we as > educators should not forget > to show our students how making accomplishments can > thrill them. The "Math > is Hard" point is only part of the picture. > > What students feel when they know they are successful > at something that is > "hard" is what we want them to walk out of our > classes beaming about. > Educators should tell their students, "Yes it is > hard, but I know you can do > it!" (my opinion) > > Anna
Yes, I'm all for that.
Again, my problem is we have no certified math teachers in Portland (yet). I shoulda said "gnu math teachers" but that's getting old. Now that we're doing a digital math track, we'll say "gnu" less often and just call it math. We'll forget about the bad old days, when people were slaves to ETS and the calculator companies, talking about NCLB and yet completely ignorant of our "NCLB polynomial" and "NCLB polyhedron" (Cheney to Obama: "I *told* you they were incredibly stoopid, you'll end up following a lot of our same policies I bet."). Those were dark and sorrowful days, OLPC in its infancy, people cowed by gulag professoriate of hyperspecialized antediluvians (all good spelling words, hope ya'll are checking in with our spelling teacher **).