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Topic: MathTeachers?
Replies: 31   Last Post: Apr 15, 2013 1:17 AM

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kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: MathTeachers?
Posted: Mar 28, 2013 12:30 PM
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On Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 5:45 AM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:
> On Mar 28, 2013, at 1:43 AM, Joe Niederberger <> wrote:
> Neither party knew f&ck about exp as far as I can tell.
> Maybe they learned about exp from Desmos. :)
> It isn't just banks, it is everywhere. I shouldn't complain I guess, because it means that if you are technically savvy in these things, you are in demand. You and the green card holders.
> Bob Hansen

... which brings up the fact that, actually, there are very strong
disincentives to having a population knowing math too well.

In the dark ages, the church bureaucrats did everyone's taxes and
executed people's wills, kept the books for everyone. Copernicus, a
church functionary, had a job like this, even while he worked in the
background on dogma-overturning ideas.

With Liber Abaci and the spread of numerical algorithms based on Great
Wisdom School technology [tm], courtesy of Al Khwarizmi & Co, those
lowly dependents, those worshipful sheep, started getting it into
their heads they could do their own bookkeeping. The church rightly
saw this as a threat to its temporal authority and for awhile meted
out severe penalties to any caught using "cyphers" (the zero and all

I think in our own day it's somewhat similar. We're awash in a wealth
of powerful free tools (open source this and open source that, cheap
hardware) but the front line teachers, who don't know how to use them,
are disincentivized, as are school admins. We don't need a lot of
"hackers" in this world, and isn't it entirely convenient that what's
on those standardized tests is so time consuming to teach that there
just isn't time in the day for that much needed overhaul (except maybe
in bottom-of-the-TIMMS South Africa where there's more of a "nothing
to lose lets try stuff" attitude).

Case in point (I was telling this story again last night). The police
out in West Precinct Hillsboro, home to many a high tech company, were
being asked by the schools to come in and give badass lectures to the
kids about the evils of downloading / pirating on computer. The
police were supposed to threaten them with jail if they were caught
using Napster or whatever (this was awhile back).

Then one day a light went on in West Precinct when the police
themselves understood about open source, and that all these poor kids
could actually be reveling in free assets completely legally. They
felt like dupes. They were angry the schools were using them. They
set up their own Linux labs and invited kids to come play. Why?
Better these poor Latino immigrants have their American dreams
fulfilled than be left to languish, which is what the schools were
doing to them.

Problem: kids are afraid of police, don't see them as teachers, and
they had a hard time adjusting their perspective. It was a bold
experiment anyway. And an eyeopener for me. I learned to see school
more the way police see it: a kind of proto prison where kids learn a
lot of bad habits and dumb ways of acting out, often in protest
against an oppressive adult world that has no use for them.

Yes, there are stellar teachers and great schools, but when you add it
all up and divide, the average is very disappointing to a huge number.
Easy to want to fight the status quo then, and teach 'em exp really
well (outside the school building, where the bureaucrats can't meddle
as easily and apply the brakes the way they do).

Those interested in education reform need to study the ways schools
actively hold students back. We need to remind ourselves that school
is primarily about netting incomes to adults, just as prisons provide
lots of jobs for guards and other support staff. For-profit prisons
also help feed shareholders. Getting a percentage of school kids
prepped for prison is a core function of the US education system,
given the importance of prisons to the GDP.


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