On Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at 11:04 PM, Robert Hansen <email@example.com> wrote: > > So your post had nothing to do with algebra preparation? > > Bob Hansen >
I was reading your post about preparing your own youngster for Algebra and I saw a list of some questions you thought would help spark the right kind of insights.
Earlier, David Renfro had come up with a problem we also thought was good in that way, and a little tricky in the sense that you needed to know (a**2 - b**2) = (a + b)(a- b), but (a-b) was just 1.
I'm thinking "when does a person have the time and willingness to imagine a future in which knowing such things could be a part of one's personality?".
You've been decrying schooling as nowadays social engineering, perhaps too hard-bitten by the illusion of "everyone is equal" to stomach the fact that bell curves exist and not everyone is talented or gifted in the same way.
I'm bringing up more about that social engineering which goes way beyond school, to television, the Internet, and the options young people now have to find that safe study space somewhere other than packed in a classroom.
Paul was talking about teachers being overworked in the sense of forced to provide too many classroom hours. I've been talking about how the best and most up to date materials are often not available to students through classrooms. The classroom curriculum is woefully out of date, precisely for the reason Paul mentions: the role of "teacher" has been artificially hobbled, one might say destroyed.
What I was describing are different social roles wherein a teacher such as myself is able to role model "continuing to learn" i.e. I remain active in adding to my knowledge and skills by serving on various committees and working groups.
I have an education summit coming up in March in Santa Clara.
I'm on a committee that's studying Racism and how it impacts our institutions.
I attend meetings with food logistics planners regarding that fresh produce intercept program and all the physics involved there (clock ticking on the veggies, temperature variables, transport issues, the physics of cooking -- this is "home economics" but perhaps with more STEM).
Through Saturday Academy and other venues, I teach "Martian Math" and other subjects, some with Algebra topics woven in. I reach middle and high schoolers by this means. I was also invited to teach an entire 8th grade some Python when at Winterhaven, plus an all 6th grade assembly on geometry.
All of which is to say, I'm role modeling a teacher of the future perhaps in that my role is somewhat complementary to student roles that take them out of their classrooms and give them a wider radius. Their homework space is more like a study carrel / cubicle perhaps, might be in a coffee shop or a CubeSpace.
I'm thinking a city like Portland or Seoul or Manila or city state like Singapore might soon be offering different trajectories through the day, for young people, that involve a different mix of indoor and outdoor activities, a different kind of integration with the surrounding society. Less age segregation, more learning Algebra in a mix with programming, other alphanumeracy skills.
In other words, I'm suggesting that our traditional institution of "school" may be coming unglued in some contexts, some parts of the world. Fixing these schools from within is less a focus than reconfiguring the average day of a student such that it remains educational, is more educational than before. New kinds of television, more of it made by students themselves, will be part of the equation.
This all probably sounds unrealistic to some extent because our mental picture of the average student suggests they're too irresponsible to be let loose in these newly designed spaces. But on the other hand, so much of the same infrastructure will be attractive to adults, young and old.
Algebra (whatever that means) will percolate outward. Testing will occur. Students will build competence in various ways. Teachers will likewise build their portfolios. But this pattern of cramming into buildings with lockers for hours a day, jamming into seats, listening to these teachers, when you can get that on Youtube, may be going away in some cases.
Our collective student body is actually "too old" for such treatment, thanks to social media and other forces. "Going to school" should not be taken for granted as the best path to academic success in some zip codes, given all the other options for schooling that will emerge (have emerged). I'm not talking "home schooling" per se, but the many hybrids, many synergies. We'll have new kinds of teacher to go along with these new kinds of school.