Responding to Robert Hansen's (RH's) post dt. Jan 9, 2013 12:04 AM (pasted below my signature for ready reference):
Well, 'magnet math' or 'dipole math' or 'anymath', it does seem to be working - at least for the children gifted enough to make it to a 'magnet program' at a 'magnet school'.
Many things struck me in the documents RH kindly linked us to. I quote in particular from the Washington Post Magazine article "Montgomery County Math Team elevates math to competitive sport":
- -- "The Montgomery County Math Team is one of a growing number of elite teams that are elevating math to a competitive sport in the United States."
- -- "Coaches complain that parents beg or argue with them to let their kids onto the team even when they fall short on qualifying scores. Competition is fierce: Top-ranked players begin training as young as sixth grade, attend summer math camps, and pay $100 an hour for private coaching."
- -- Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent was a star on New York's Stuyvesant High School math; - -- Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was part of the top-ranked Phillips Exeter Academy team in New Hampshire. - -- Sergey Brin (Google co-founder) is arguably the most famous alumnus of the Montgomery County Math Team.
- -- ... ... ...
- -- [Eric Walstein (coach of the Montgomery County Math Team, reckoned to be one of the best math coaches in the country) is] "known in Montgomery County for his vocal opposition to a math curriculum that he says values memorization over thinking, ..."
- -- (About the math star Sam Zbarsky's parents): "they say they are often asked what they did to help Sam. They think their no-TV rule helped so their children had time to read books and think (they did occasionally allow educational movies), and they emphasized having diverse interests to stretch his brain (Sam is a fencer and is part of a Russian drama group). But they don't think they did anything special except to emphasize learning to better understand relations and patterns between various objects, concepts and people in the world."
SPECIAL EMPHASIS for 'Bob' and Haim: ===================================== 1. Now what were those words again?: **better understand relations and patters between various objects**, i.e. those despised 'elements'?.
2. Reading between lines, Sam Zbarsky's seems to have been a highly enriched background and environment. Jake Scott's was, it is very clear, seriously underprivileged. While he is surely highly intelligent and talented, Sam Zbarsky does not appear to be making the best use of his available opportunities . Jake Scott certainly seems to be making the very best use of the opportunities that come his way. (The wrestling coach Santo Chase [mentioned in Richard Tchen's earlier message] probably had a strong hand in shaping this attitude).
Appropriate lessons may be drawn from this.
What's needed, I claim (as always) is a practical means to enable the inherent creativity of your US students (in math; in other fields) to come to the surface (as Montgomery County seems to be doing quite successfully). "PUTTING THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!" is not the issue at all.
There's of course the 'minor matter' of economics as well involved: I observed that the students of the article appear to be from families affluent enough to be able to afford math coaching programs costing $ 100 per hour.
I claim that the affluence of the families involved is, in fact, the least important of the issues underlying (though the economics could certainly be a killer for families unable to afford such programs). Of course, your societal systems need to be developed enough to ensure that the economic background of the parents should not hinder a student - I believe this squares with several of Paul A. Tanner's arguments.
In support of this claim, I note that the 'original rap star', Jake Scott, came to his stardom from a profoundly underprivileged background. The PHS 'magnet program' (discussed at another of RH's links) claims to ensure that the financial background of a student is never allowed to stand in his or her way.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned from those documents at the links. The issues are:
- -- Do you have minds open enough to take those lessons in? - -- Are you clear-sighted enough - and honest enough (with yourself, at least) - to learn the needed lessons?
GSC ("Still Shoveling Away!") Robert Hansen (RH) posted Jan 9, 2013 12:04 AM: > > On Jan 8, 2013, at 10:16 AM, "Dave L. Renfro" > <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > > > I heard about this guy on NPR radio as I was > driving to work > > this morning and found this article at The > Washington Post: > > > > > http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-11-23/local/35 > 508341_1_math-students-montgomery-blair-high-school > > > > I think he's doing great. He's found a way to > connect to > > the students he has (not the students he'd like to > have) > > by making use of his individual strengths (not by > making > > use of the strengths of someone he's trying to, or > has been > > told to, emulate). > > > > Dave L. Renfro > > > http://www.maa.org/news/cgmo2012-results.html > > A bronze medal was awarded to Gabriella Studt, 16, > from Silver Spring, Maryland, who begins her junior > year at Montgomery Blair High School. > > The school has a magnet program as well. It would be > an interesting study of how all of this works side by > side. > > And there is another magnet school in MD as well with > a pretty impressive FAQ... > > http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/uploadedFiles/schoo > ls/poolesvillehs/magnet/magnetfaqs10_13_10.pdf > > And the cofounder of google is an alumni of the > Montgomery Blair math team... > > http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/montg > omery-county-math-team-elevates-math-to-competitive-sp > ort/2012/08/02/gJQAvmtQPX_story.html > > And check out the summer math packets... > > http://www.mbhs.edu/departments/magnet/Summerpackets.p > hp > > In my day, this was just called math, now it is > "magnet math".:) > > Bob Hansen