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Topic: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives

Replies: 30   Last Post: Sep 5, 2012 2:14 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 1,635
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Posted: Aug 30, 2012 8:05 PM
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On Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 4:31 AM, Robert Hansen <bob@rsccore.com> wrote:

<< SNIP>>

> There are no lingering questions as to how to teach interested and aspiring
> students physics, or math, or writing, or music. If you have just some
> "teacher DNA" in yourself, these students will bring it out.


This sounds like Haim's position. I so far don't understand where it
comes from. The premise seems to be that the content / substance of
these various "subjects" is something static, a known quantity, and
the only variable is whether the teachers and/or the students have
"the right stuff" or not.

But this premise is on the face of it not true. The content /
substance, not to mention focus, of the disciplines continues to
change. This is obvious for any discipline with a time dimension,
such as literature, music, geography. But then what discipline is
immune from the effects of time? Do we really believe "math is
eternal" or some such empty shibboleth?

When I was a kid, we were in the thick of the New Math and the
professors were suddenly thinking we needed more about sets. We also
needed to know more about bases. Then I switched to an English school
and it was more about adding five-column wide numbers and longer long
divisions. So even among the various English-speaking ethnicities,
there's no sweeping agreement on substance. I learned that early.
Oh, and we did pounds, shillings and pence a lot, at this Engish
School (in Italy), and this was before they decimalized the money.

Later, in high school (mostly Manila, American style), they taught us
how to look in the back of the book for trig values of angles.
There'd be pages and pages with rows being radians and sin cos tan
etc. reading across. If the exact angle we wanted was between other
values, we were taught a process called "interpolation". Scientific
calculators were not assumed to be available.

>>> for angle in range(0, 91):
theta = radians(angle)
print("{0:4.1f}: {cosine:6.4f} {sine:6.4f}
{tangent:6.4f}".format(angle, cosine=cos(theta), sine=sin(theta),
tangent=tan(theta)))


0.0: 1.0000 0.0000 0.0000
1.0: 0.9998 0.0175 0.0175
2.0: 0.9994 0.0349 0.0349
3.0: 0.9986 0.0523 0.0524
4.0: 0.9976 0.0698 0.0699
5.0: 0.9962 0.0872 0.0875
6.0: 0.9945 0.1045 0.1051
7.0: 0.9925 0.1219 0.1228

etc.

Is that "programming" (writing three lines to get a trig table from
1-90 degrees)? It's just using some syntax / notation to compute some
results. This is just math, but on a computer, not on a scientific
calculator (how we do it in STEM).

Later, a lot of the New Math topics were rolled back. How much time
is spent now with Venn Diagrams? What's up with propositional
calculus? Do we still care about the contrapositive? Operations in
different bases?

A lot of these topics fell by the wayside with "back to basics" a
battle cry (not sure what's more basic than number bases or sets --
the whole point was that's about as basic as it gets, but then "battle
cries" aren't meant to be expressions of a thoroughly rational thought
process).

What I see, in short, is a lot of stumbling, mind-changing, people
going er, um, no wait, how about... experimenting, trial and error.
There's a huge amount of disagreement on "what's the best way" but
also on "what's best to include?" versus "what's best to leave out?"
>From one day to the next you may not see this change and develop some
comforting myths about the status quo, but if you live a number of
decades and keep alert, you'll see it's a kinetic environment. That
thing Alvin Toffler wrote about, "future shock" wasn't entirely just
within his fevered imagination.

The physics teachers agonize a lot about all the "wrong" ways to teach
about energy, work, power (the mechanics concepts). People develop
misapprehensions or get stuck in mental models, half baked, they can't
shake. It's a minefield out there and misinformation has a hay day,
infecting people with negative meme viruses every step of the way.
Helping a next generation build up more immunity, such that they're
less susceptible to inferior / misinforming cultural conditioning;
that's a worthy goal, and it's far from a solved problem. We see
students fall to corrupting / corrosive thought patterns left and
right, failing to break free from mental imprisonment.

The engineering all around us has been rocketing ahead in ways K-12
tends to stay silent about. Some schools tell all the teachers that
no way should they have a Facebook account and if any student tries to
Friend them, no way should they accept. But at the conference I went
to for college physics teachers, that wasn't the attitude at all. So
once again: from one subculture to the next, one teaching community
to the next, one school to the next, one ethnicity to the next,
there's no agreement on content. It's not just about style. Content
is up for grabs and keeps changing (or should -- unless you want to
play "frozen in time" and create some kind of insulated pocket of
nostalgia, some kind of theme park celebrating a retro past:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/henkke93/3201944703/ ).

Kirby


Date Subject Author
8/29/12
Read Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Richard Hake
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
kirby urner
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
kirby urner
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/2/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
kirby urner
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists
And Progressives
Wayne Bishop
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
9/2/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/4/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
9/4/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists
And Progressives
Wayne Bishop
9/5/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
9/3/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/4/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III

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