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Topic: Square root of six
Replies: 21   Last Post: Aug 31, 2012 12:47 PM

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Robert Hansen

Posts: 11,345
From: Florida
Registered: 6/22/09
Re: Square root of six
Posted: Aug 29, 2012 7:52 AM
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I want to make sure that my points aren't twisted any further.

1. I am not against teaching CS in school, I am for it.
2. There is no trend, even an infinitesimally small one, towards treating CS and Math as the same.
3. There is no trend (period) towards re-defining SQL as math.

I looked up Riverdale High. They require 4 years of math. So I think to myself "Well maybe this is SQL and REGEX math like what Kirby keeps talking about." So I dig deeper and look up the state math assessments for Oregon and Riverdale in particular. I don't find SQL questions. I don't find REGEX questions. I find math questions. If we look at their class catalog, I don't even find a CS class. We do find a discrete class.

Finally, I have no problem at all with the Python / Discrete / Numerical Methods class at Phillips or at any school. I am all for it. I just point out the obvious when I say that you can't really start that up till after the student has conquered algebra. We have dealt enough in the past with the MYTH that it is magical to put students and computers together in a math class. When you do that too early you don't do justice to math or to CS. But after a student has successfully navigated algebra, geometry and a few elementary functions. Then they have enough foundation and reason to explore numerical methods. That doesn't rule out the use of a computer in the classroom occasionally, until you get to numerical methods. It does rule out SQL and web pages development.

Bob Hansen

On Aug 28, 2012, at 2:42 PM, kirby urner <> wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:

>> I am just being honest. Your view of software is ancient. That is why
> No, software is still generating a lot of instructions that get run on
> chips, which tend to use hexadecimal numbers.
> Here's a great STEM exhibit:
> The entire process is intensely mathematical, as is what goes on with
> RNA and its transcribing of DNA into proteins.
> Math is a lexical thing, not just a numeric thing. Regular
> Expressions are a legitimate math topic (pattern matching with
> strings). I teach that topic almost daily.

>> colleges have so much trouble being pertinent in CS. They should follow
>> MIT's lead with their Course 6 program. Comparing programming today with
>> programming 50 years ago (when it was near-math) is like comparing medicine
>> today with medicine 100 years ago. It isn't quaint or simple any more. Layer

> You have it hard-wired that the only people starting down the path of
> learning some programming are going to be working professionally as
> "programmers" full time. But that was never true of K-12 mathematics
> i.e. it was never the case that a full time job as a mathematician was
> at the end of that tunnel.
> So it's the same logic: when you start down a path of acquiring more
> numeracy skills, alpha-numeracy skills, where are you going? You're
> learning about SQL using sqlite. You're learning XY coordinates with
> Javascript and HTML5 canvas, and XYZ coordinates as well, with POV-Ray
> and VRML.
> Why struggle for a couple years mastering XYZ and spherical
> coordinates and never get a chance to use a ray tracer that expects
> exactly such data for its rendering engine, and will give you colorful
> polyhedra as your reward. A traditional math textbook has a few
> pictures but promises and delivers nothing where interacting with
> technology is concerned. So much wasted opportunity. We're not
> talking about anything expensive. POV-Ray is free, as is the Cortona
> VRML browser.
> You're like the guy who says kids should never learn to ride a bicycle
> because the world has little need for full time Harley Davidson riding
> Hells Angels. It just doesn't work that way. In K-16 we're opening
> doors. Learning about SQL, redis, JavaScript, LAMP, TCP/IP, GIS, mash
> ups, noSQL, Google Earth, Scratch, SAGE, Python... POV-Ray, VRML is
> going to open lots and lots of doors, to art, to engineering, to
> surveying, to astronomy.
> A couple years ago I taught Python programming to people who work with
> the instrumentation and data pipelines coming off the Hubble Space
> Telescope. I was a trainer for Space Science Telescope Institute.
> Why, do you think astronomer scientists use
> Fourier Analysis and might want to use numpy for Hubble data? You
> betcha. Do you think scientists all over the world use Python for
> math-science computations? Is scipy one of their distros?
> The ridiculous backward "schools" (some are in Florida, others in
> Oregon) that don't use the free software are mostly kept that way for
> lack of STEM savvy. The don't know how to get started except by
> outsourcing, and that costs money and the private sector competes with
> the public schools for consultants, jacks up their hourly rates.
> So school districts get left further and further behind. Any "math
> teacher" that can afford the time away, goes back to community college
> and gets into IT, which pays better and uses similar skills: an
> ability to concentrate, problem solve, apply numeric and symbolic
> skills (noodling).
> That's not true of every school district. Riverdale High is another
> with STEM savvy I could talk about.

>> upon layer of complexity has been piled on. Networking, databases, backends,
>> frontends, threading, load balancing, server, client, graphics and to top it
>> off, multiple languages, formal (computer) and natural (human, global). And
>> we are talking one application. I am not complaining, just saying that

> Right. That's like a Hell's Angel saying kids should not learn how to
> ride bicycles because there's no room at the top for many like him.
> Mathematics as practiced professionally is way beyond K-12 math as
> well, but I don't hear you raving about that, as if that analogy
> didn't count for some reason.
> Why so biased? Why so unfair?

>> things change. CS grew up. Some CS people are mathy, like some musicians are
>> mathy, but this isn't a mathy field anymore and hasn't been for quite some
>> time. That died in the 80's. You want mathy CS, then stay in college, become
>> a professor or researcher. Nature only allocated us a certain number of
>> rewrites of the floating point libraries. We have used those up.
>> Bob Hansen

> Such bizarre education policies you recommend. The world over, STEM
> workers are writing programs to evaluate their data, perhaps doing 3D
> visualizations (check out PyMol), and here you're saying computers and
> computing don't belong. Maybe they used to, but no longer.
> I think you're going against history here. Python runs on your smart
> phone today. GIS / GPS is everywhere. SQL is everywhere. To say
> K-12 should make all this stuff "elective" whereas learning to factor
> polynomials like Cardano is the bee's knees in terms of relevance...
> ever cross you're mind we can do it all?
> There's actually time in the day to learn SQL and geometry at the same
> time. How? Store 26 key vertexes in one table, organize them into
> faces in a related table, and have one row per polyhedron in a master
> table. Have it back end into POV-Ray and/or VRML. Pie in the sky?
> It's what I've taught at Saturday Academy, to teenagers. They only
> have a few days to sample. I don't run a whole school. But that
> doesn't mean that I won't or shouldn't or that the better STEM schools
> aren't already doing as I recommend.
> My curriculum writing is just way better than most of what's out
> there, why be modest? That's why you don't see many people standing up
> to me effectively. They see I've done my homework and know that I
> know what I'm talking about.
> Lots of collaborators, others share my point of view. Our STEM stuff
> is simply better, and it's percolating outward.
> Sure, there's a Gap (we're light years ahead of most others), but we
> can live with the responsibility to lead.
> Kirby

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