On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 3:07 PM, Dave L. Renfro <email@example.com> wrote:
<< snip >>
> I don't think I mentioned what usually happened, at least > in the post above (although I do recall writing about it, > so perhaps this was in another post), but my experience > was that almost always the students who could carry out > these coping strategies were already good in math and > usually discovered several on their own while the other > students (with a few very inspirational counterexamples) > found these coping strategies made things more difficult > for them by being yet another thing they were supposed > to learn how to do. > > Dave L. Renfro >
I liked this analysis about how bored teachers might sometimes get this gee whiz attitude around some New Thing and make that the coups du jour. Their enthusiasm may be infectious in a few cases, but what we really need are teachers who stay enthusiastic about the same Old Things, as to the noobs (newbies) these things are new also, and still just as valuable. Good points.
What I see as a possible solution to this problem, which has been solved before in the same way (so no claims to being original here), is Rotation. By which I mean rotating faculty, not letting any one of them rot in a rut. In fact we need to challenge faculty to not just sit pretty. The idea of tenure was to take risks, not sit back and take it easy. So a tenure track should mean lots of opportunities to shake it up.
I'm currently in the mechanized logic division, meaning I teach the same machine-based claptrap day in and day out, hours a day. It's new to the students moving along the track, a four part series, and their particular learning difficulties may be new to me.
That's another important source of novelty for some teachers: their students. It's too limiting to use polarities like "good and bad". You need lots of axes, like when doing wine tasting, if planning to introject a student body.
In my case, that may be more difficult because I don't meet these people in person, usually (talking about the logic courses). It's all asynchronous over the web, except when I showcase some New Thing I've been tinkering with in a workshop (using the "gee whiz" effect to recruit new students is a time-honored strategy as well).
For example (speaking of newfangled), just a couple days ago I started unveiling pieces of my newest "tractor-based" curriculum segments.
In this age of "diversity" (which in geekdom is often code for "need more women") you'd think something so prosaic as a tractor would scare off market share.
When Seymour Papert & Co. unveiled Logo, it was a "turtle-based" curriculum. Turtles seem kid friendly (like in 'Finding Nemo'). Plus sea turtles can swim, meaning a Logo turtle could be adapted for volumes and (x,y,z) play.
Tractors are strictly "2D" (they plough in a plane) and their "field" (the canvas) is uber plain and simple: ASCII characters in a 2D data structure (a list of lists).
Starting this simply, it's pretty easy to ramp up. Before ya know it, we've got the Game of Life and the Mandelbrot Set, though we need to go back and explore the ideas more. How is the complex number type handled (used for the Mandelbrot)?
Note that we don't have much time for any "real number type" in DM (that's for the AM track to spend more time on). We have floating point numbers, extended precision numbers of various kinds, but no reals.
Per my earlier postings to this thread, the stratagem here is to pitch to adults and have some trickle down that way, rather than to come in as teachers of something newfangled, who alienate the grownups by guinea pigging the kids.
The "tractor graphics" aesthetic actually ties in with the Rotation solution above, where we don't make individual faculty members just do the same thing their whole lives, even if (especially if) they have tenure track positions.
A lot of our adult workers are volunteering and have experience traveling the world (Fallon for example, who made the Youtube, and of course myself). This doesn't mean we're all homeless (I have a roof over my head), but some of our students and faculty are definitely in that "wandering through" category (they're "in rotation"). There's campus housing in some scenarios. I provide space for touring faculty.
Say some volunteer from the Ukraine comes in through a church program, kicks it around for awhile, learns some skills, and is gone, off to a next chapter. Small teams may also get into it.
Yes, I mentioned "church" (even though I'm not a member of any), which gives the idea we're not a secular program, and therefore ineligible for federal support.
My response to this criticism is we haven't structured this as an NGO, but we encourage NGOs to get involved, and that includes churches. But why not more public schools?
That will be the next step, now that so many adults have been through some of the pilots and are spreading the word.
Given the Internet, education initiatives needn't concern themselves with "brick and mortar" too early. We get lots of student involvement in cyberspace, without needing to reform what goes on in those classrooms right off the bat.