Richard Strausz posted Jun 20, 2013 2:00 PM: > > I thought that Devlin's reply (see link below) made > good use of bold text to help this reader make sense > of the original article. > > http://profkeithdevlin.org/2013/06/19/faulty-logic-in- > the-new-math-wars-skirmish/ > > Richard > I had read the original NYT article - and I've now read through Devlin's bold-faced comments about it.
(I accept some [but not all] of Devlin's arguments against the original article - just as I accept some [but not all] of the arguments carried in the original New York Times article. If these acceptances of mine appear contradictory, so be it. I also happen to disagree with some [not all] of the original article; just as I happen to disagree with some [not all] of Devlin's rebuttal of it).
However, my point here is NOT any of that at all: it's for readers of Devlin's works and for the readers of the NYT Opinionator article to decide what they think about these ventures.
My point is just to state that I agree with you, Richard Strausz, that Devlin has indeed made pretty "good use of bold text" in the article. I believe, however, that you could possibly have derived more from the NYT piece than you may have got from those bold-faced comments pf Devlin's.
I am pretty sure that the *effectiveness* of Devlin's approach could easily have been VERY significantly higher than it is. As Joe Niederberger has pointed out in his post dt. Jun 20, 2013 8:19 PM (http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=9141377 ), Dr Devlin has probably allowed himself to get somewhat "carried away" by his enthusiasm to rebut the NYT Opinionator piece.
Devlin could have done a MUCH better job if he had used some of what I call 'prose + structural graphics'** (p+sg) in his arguments - but that would have demanded that his readers are adequately familiar with 'p+sg' to follow and develop on an argument presented in this manner. (**See"Special Note for Robert Hansen, below)
The 'lazy way' that Devlin has used (it's not the simplest or the best way) is just to use 'pure prose' - and this is indeed what Devlin has done!
Elsewhere - in his famous 2002 paper "Wars in American mathematical education" (http://michel.delord.free.fr/toomwars.pdf, kindly brought to our attention earlier at this thread by Domenico Rosa - Professor Andre Toom has argued that:
+++ " Like all people, mathematicians are prone to avoid extra work and sometimes say: \Why should I bother myself with public education? There are special people to care about it." +++
I have (in an earlier posting right here), indicated my (partial) disagreement with Professor Toom - I have claimed that it is NOT that mathematicians are particularly prone "to avoid extra work" (as he states), but more that (like most of us) they are prone to avoid working in ways that they are not accustomed to do.
I observe that, like Keith Devlin, Andre Toom also had probably gotten carried away by his own argument: instead of trying to seek out the most effective way of putting it forward, Professor Toom went into a long, LONG prose argument which, though sound in a great many respects, was NOT terribly effective in achieving much in terms of changing the course of the "math wars in US mathematical education".
Toom's paper did not succeed in preventing people putting forward ridiculous suggestions about US public school education such as "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!"; "BLOW UP THE SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION!"; "PARENTS MUST FORCE THEIR CHILDREN TO LEARN MATH [AND THE CHILDREN WILL LATER THANK THEM FOR IT]!", and so on and so forth.
It DID, yes, succeed in leading many to believe that it was an outstanding piece of thinking about the flaws of US math education - though little real change in US math education systems has occurred on account of it.
(I note that Warfield's insights into systems, and the 'structuring approach' - that helps make 'systems' [including 'systems of thought', such as 'math'] more readily accessible and understandable by all - these powerful insights of Warfield's were available long before 2002 when Toom published his famous paper.
**Special Note for Robert Hansen: No, 'structural graphics' as I discuss and use has very little indeed to do with 'CPM scheduling', PERT Charts and the like. It is NOT "empty list-making" as you and Haim have tried to claim.