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Topic: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Replies: 29   Last Post: Dec 16, 2010 4:47 AM

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kirby urner

Posts: 2,578
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Posted: Dec 13, 2010 2:49 PM
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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...

Kirby

</rant>

Message was edited by: kirby urner


Date Subject Author
12/10/10
Read Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/10/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Haim
12/10/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/11/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/12/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/12/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
kirby urner
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Domenico Rosa
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Richard Strausz
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
kirby urner
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
kirby urner
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/13/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
kirby urner
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
kirby urner
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Richard Strausz
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
kirby urner
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Richard Strausz
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Richard Strausz
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Jonathan Groves
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/14/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Robert Hansen
12/16/10
Read Re: Conrad Wolfram on Computers in Teaching Math
Richard Strausz

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