On Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 9:44 AM, Jonathan Groves <JGroves@kaplan.edu> wrote:
> Not all students will have the kind of influence outside school > that nurtures their educational growth. Some students can overcome > such problems, but not all can. So the teachers and schools should > teach in whatever ways and provide the resources to help foster as > much educational growth in these students that they can to try to > give them a chance to succeed. > > > <rant>
Yes, in some of our schools (like Free Skool / Portland or Santa Cruz) we watch those Black Panther documentaries about the emergency schools they set up. The males were in there with the primary school kids, demonstrating nurturing skills and coaching children to not fall victim to the kinds of put downs and other undermining media messages they'd be getting. Some of the documentaries go into quite a bit of detail about this. Bill Cosby is in one of them.
The kids might be living three or four to a room, with adults, and rats were (still are) a problem, as well as unsanitary water etc. Landlords tend to burn the place for insurance before "throwing good money after bad" so the tenants either cough up the rent or hit the streets, no cops to their side (indeed, in this period of history, there was a shooting war between Panthers and the police, with some new immigrants, including fighting Irish, on the side of the Panthers).
There's a lot of math in this picture, such as "what leads a landlord to burn his building, maybe with people stuck inside? What are the odds of getting caught?"
In my daughter's inner city public school, the teachers are pretty tough. She's had a Hell's Angel biker guy (all subjects), a helicopter door gunner from Vietnam (chemistry), various former drug dealers and other refugees -- an average cross-section of America in other words. One of her chief complaints about history class is the heavy-handedness of the message. There seems to be a subtle dogma of "racial guilt" as if the sins of the fathers were automatically the sins of the sons.
From my point of view, education is an exit strategy that gets you out of family feuds and hillbilly beliefs about "manifest destiny". I don't see dwelling on the Trail of Tears, and drawing analogies with Afghanistan, as a "hate white people" thing. It's more that a viciously jealous resource-hungry people will hire an army to do its dirty work if at all possible, and they had a friend in Andrew Jackson.
Land grabbing goes on everywhere, like in the Philippines, where missionary-trained Catholics show up with a "deed" to ancestral lands, out of the blue, now that they know "the law" (= a way to steal without getting in trouble with the central government). Now they "own" the place and the indigenous people, with no fancy diplomas, need to head for shanty towns in the metropolis, evidence of a broken and corrupt university curriculum (as the resources to take care of them are in principle available -- these are Global U students after all).
There's usually a "manifest destiny" ideology used to justify theft (it's ours, it's our right, might makes right or whatever), and that's a pattern to look for and bring to the foreground, as almost a mathematically predictable feature. Go through the math texts of that group and look for subtle (or not so subtle) "manifest destiny" messages. How do they dress in the pictures? What media were used in adjacent studies? What career paths were offered?
In the USA, there's a lot of downward pressure on civilian living standards to ensure a large pool of volunteers willing to sign up for military service, and to re-up if necessary. The military is the largest public education system in the world and does most of the math training (or call it "boy scout math"). A lot of it has to do with inventory, supply chains, transport (trucks and planes), and of course ballistics.
A lot of these tasks have been outsourced to private contractors but by "the military" I mean to include the bulk of the USA economy, the world's Sparta, kept alive (solvent) on paper for precisely this purpose. Incarceration (running prisons) is another huge employer. Most mathematics in the USA is either about feeding the war machine and/or the prisons (you might wanna check my numbers -- a research topic).
Those who enjoy privileges assert their innately deserving nature. Others evidence guilt. What other patterns do we find? Lots of anthropology here.
Now that we have computers tapped into the Global U library, cram packed with digital assets (the so-called "Free Web" etc.), it's possible to dial up these documentaries in seconds, and to show only excerpts, so that classroom debates don't become too passive. Students themselves need to develop their skills, not just watch others being skillful. Learning how to pull up the relevant digital assets in just seconds is one of those skills, already exercised by Speech and Debate contestants all around the country. Visualization of data isn't just about pie charts. If you wanna diagram the Trail of Tears in some detail, study Tufte first (he may actually have a chart on that, I don't remember).
How we develop communications skills with math is we look for ways math has been used, for whatever agendas. How did the Romans use it, for social engineering as well as aqueduct engineering (a fine line -- is there even a difference?).
Those wanting those Cherokee lands and jealous of their advanced constitutionally-based civilization, complete with judiciary, had a slave-based economy. By their calculations, if the US Army would just clear out the Cherokee, they could spread out their plantations and work the slaves, import more. That was a computation. Looked good on paper.
What computations led to the invasion of Afghanistan? Some say it was about giving more educational opportunities to women. Nothing to do with 911 of course, as Rumsfeld said at the outset ("no interesting targets") and a man-hunt for Bin Laden can't explain the data either (a failed hypothesis -- he's likely dead, as the FBI and White House have already confirmed, has been for maybe nine years or so).
So here's a chance to go on the web and find out how many USA universities have offered full scholarships to Afghanis to date and in what subjects. Who is walking the talk? What universities have opened branches in Kabul? The UN sends lots of people there, but does MIT?
This is what computers are good for. They let you consult reference materials and let you contact your peers to compare notes. They're social skills tools. The stereotype that a computer user is some socially inept nerd who substitutes coding for human interaction is just one of those debilitating media stereotypes used for character assassination. "Geek Panthers" better start coaching their children, to avoid these stigmatizing memes.
Geeks are actually among the most socially adept on the planet, given their global networks. Especially the female geeks. Many a high school aged female geek could replace the math teacher no problem, which is part of the dynamics of high school. A lot of the older kids come to know more and be smarter than their teachers and this becomes a source of embarrassment. It's kind of like how we're all smarter than those spoiled brats in the State Dept. It's embarrassing to have Washington DC representing us to the world. It's easier to say "that's just one more city, putting on airs, and not a very intelligent one at that".
Portlanders tend to get chauvinistic in this way. We clink our virtual glasses with diplomats from all over, celebrating our superior civilization.
Now if we can just persuade the US Army not to invade...