Kirby Urner posted Sep 29, 2011 11:57 PM: > On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 2:10 AM, GS Chandy > <email@example.com> wrote: > > > Thanks, Kirby, for that reference to Scott Gray's > work and the origins of Make Math. > > > > I have not studied Scott Gray's work in detail and > I do not yet know > > enough about "Make Math" to comment authoritatively > in any way, > > but I do believe anyone who cares to read that blog > would learn > > enough to put Wayne Bishop's dismissive comment > > > (http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=757755 > 9&tstart=0) > > where it belongs - in the rubbish bin. > > > > GSC > > Let's get some shovels ready (for those things that > really deserve shovels to bury them)! > > > > > > Dr. Bishop is somewhat politically obligated to not > do a 180 and start > endorsing what he's consistently decried. Lots of > people in that > position: needing to stay in character. True enough. We do have a fair bit of such political attitudes and stances here, don't we? > > And besides, we're still > talking about a future, albeit a field tested one > (not unlike mine, > also covered in dirt and grime, from work in the > trenches). > I have some intentions (which I do hope I shall be able to make firm plans that could come through in a couple of months), of learning enough Python in future to be able to interact fruitfully with software programmers who will be working on my OPMS - as an artifact that could help us move towards that future. Any suggestions from you would be most welcome. (I shall of course, look at the material you have previously linked up). > > What I will say is one-on-one teaching moments are > still important in > some distance education models and Scott's is one of > them. You're > working with a real person, not a grading machine. > > On the DM side of the fence, I get a lot of computer > programs by > students. I check them and offer tips and advice, > even when they're > meeting requirements (I'm often as verbose on passing > as on > not-passing assignments). > > What's cool about computer programming is the "show > your work" part is > built in: you won't have the numbers without showing > your work, which > in turn is self checking as if the logic is broken, > you won't get the > numbers. From a math teaching standpoint, you've got > one of those > to-die-for self-reinforcing feedback loops. > > Why more math teachers don't couch it in programming > is one of those > TV pundit questions for the sports bar (you can find > me at Claudia's > some Thursdays). > > For example, one of our DM track projects is: read > in the Declaration > of Independence (ASCII text provided) and count how > many words of each > word length you find, discounting (not counting) > punctuation symbols. > The final result looks like this: > > Length Count > 1 16 > 2 267 > 3 267 > 4 169 > 5 140 > 6 112 > 7 99 > 8 68 > 9 61 > 10 56 > 11 35 > 12 13 > 13 9 > 14 7 > 15 2 > > That's like the answer in the back of the book, but > there's no > "cheating", as if your program doesn't work, it won't > give us this > answer. > > Of course students might copy others' work and hand > it in as their > own, but what's the incentive? The skills I'm > teaching are in high > demand and the likelihood of getting work is pretty > good if you master > the content. If you somehow fake your way through > and even get > through the interview, then what? > Well, I believe I can demonstrate that a student who is actually using OPMS is most unlikely to do this... > > It's your first day on the job and you're scrolling > through reams of > code, expected to contribute, and now you have to > confess you have no > idea what you're doing? Why be the star of that > show? Why did you > waste all that time piggy backing, when you could > have been evolving > your own personal style, winning the respect of your > peers (what we > encourage at Blue House on campus). > Indeed. It is precisely the thought that comes through to almost anyone who uses OPMS. > > No, our students are eager to get through on their > own, knowing the > projects are "open book" in the sense that the > documentation is > always available. Programming is not about > memorizing ungodly amounts > of pure trivia. That's what Google is for. Learn > the concepts, the > heuristics, and then be prepared to slog your way > through unfamiliar > APIs for the rest of your life. No rose gardens were > promised. > Perfect! > > You're more like Spock on Star Trek: the control > panel is always > newfangled (Cardassian? Klingon?). > > Back to my DM track experiments in Portland, which > are pure science > fiction compared to most of the country, we're > looking at physical > coordination as an important criterion and see > "precision" in more > than just neat handwriting or clear algebra. > > Can you chop with sharp knives (fine motor skills)? > How about > negotiating traffic in the rain, on a bike, hauling > perishables (gross > motor skills)? > > If you grew up in the 1950s you might be thinking of > 'Boys Life' and > some kind of ranger danger camp, lots of > testosterone. That was the > football and fast Chevy era (Ralph McGehee's > contemporaries, an > idiocracy gone by). Nowadays we're more talking > about girls (like > Lindsay or Valerie). Of course I should probably say > "women" and > "men" given these are younger adults, more K-16 and > older, than K-12. > I'm an outlier at this point in history, though some > of our founders > (e.g. Keith McHenry) are older than I. > > You don't see many of us out-of-the-closet grays > running Outdoor Math > programs around here in rainy September-October -- > might be different > around Denver? > > You might think I'm being way too counter-culture in > connecting gross > and fine motor skills with math skills, but that was > the role of music > (add dance) in Greek civilization. They didn't have > iTunes back then > so you couldn't just couch potato your way through > the music > curriculum. You had to strum, blow, shake it, or > otherwise control > your movements, in synch with a group. Disney is > good on this, in > that Donald Duck in Math Land movie. > I agree entirely. > > Hansen goes on about piano training and math training > for a reason. > These two go together. That sense of rhythm, of > timing, of getting > the right beat, was not seen as distinct from > computational ability. > A similar intelligence, associated with Athena and > Apollo, was seen to > connect these disciplines. > Hansen does come through with some excellent insights on occasion - but then he does have this strange fixation on 'by-rote'. I don't quite get it. And then he has another fixation: that OPMS is about list-making (and nothing else!!) [though there has been rather less of that lately than there was once upon a time]. > > Fast forward to our own time and music is a highly > computational > activity, having switched to digital even for most > analog sounds. > Post production fine tuning is a job for high end > digital gear. Any > music studio is likely to house Apples running Pro > Tools or whatever. > Fourier Transforms become a way of life, and those > really > understanding the math have an edge, not just along > the production > pipeline, but when it comes to the artwork, like that > of Kraftwerk. > M.C. Escher helped pave the way. > > Yes, it's easy to poke fun at curricula wherein > people suddenly stand > and start doing yoga or tai chi, like some kind of > smart mob. In a > cube farm, that looks crazy, or like 1984 gone > bananas (Big Sister > watching on web cams). However, geeks working at > home or in a co-op > environment, know for a fact that lethargy leads to > sloth, which > degrades code quality. Learning to spell yourself, > take breaks, and > not just for donuts, is a survival skill, as most the > alternatives are > recipes for burnout and early retirement into the > ranks of the > pseudo-employed. > > There's a reason those corporate giants squander > money on gyms. > They're not just "being nice". Having a DM track > that includes heavy > exercise on occasion (geocaching an excuse?) is a > godsend to many a > geek parent and grandparent. > > I mention geeks a lot because that's who tends to > frequent our DM > track these days. Think of me as a recruiter of IEEE > engineers, a > gray in the Silicon Forest, soliciting not just the > big bucks, but > personnel, willing to take some paid and/or unpaid > leave to ride a > bike for a change, work in a community kitchen, > dispatch center, or > supply house. > > From this first person perspective, they ponder not > just the physical > challenges but the systems aspects. Given how we're > phasing out > Economics in favor of GST in some STEM curricula > (e.g. urban > planning), this makes perfect sense. Enroll your > kids today, give > them a head start learning the ropes. But also > enroll yourself. > > Kirby > Very nice indeed!