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Topic: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
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GS Chandy

Posts: 6,740
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Posted: Jun 24, 2013 2:47 AM
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Kirby Urner posted Jun 23, 2013 5:38:
>
> On Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 7:38 PM, GS Chandy
> <gs_chandy@yahoo.com> wrote:
>

> > Sorry about that. Let me see if I can make the
> point in future without
> > the shouting - however, I do notice that:
> >
> > i) none of them has ever taken back any of that and

> they had been shouting
> > their slogans out for quite a few years, I believe
> (long before I ever
> > arrived on the scene).
> >

>
> That is not remarkable given the tenor of this list,
> which is defined by
> opposing camps with conflicting agendas. This is one
> of those lists where
> the so-called "math wars" get fought / debated /
> hashed out / shared. The
> rhetoric is what it is.
>

Rhetoric isn't really "what it is", I'm afraid (in the case of 'societal issues'.

The 'outcome of rhetoric' on societal (or other deeply felt) issues is generally to ensure a cessation of real effort seriously to seek a way out of (or forward on) an issue, problem or dispute.

Quite often (not always), it IS possible actually to find a way out* of many societal issues that we confront if we'd learn to do with a little less rhetoric and a little more effective articulation of the 'factors involved' in the issue. (*Well perhaps not a "a way out of", but at least a way forward - even a few steps forward; even one step forward could be useful). Specifically, let's look at the case of the "math wars":

e.g., one camp believes that the only way 'out' is to:

"Put the Education Mafia in jail!" (Note, no capitalisation - but I would like to put a little emphasis there, which Math-teach unfortunately does not permit), AND to:

"Blow up the Schools of Education" (this is not even a 'poor joke', I'm afraid).

[I really do not understand why these ridiculous exhortations were ever even given serious heed to. Why weren't the people propounding them simply laughed out of contention? That is, in fact, what I had been trying to get done].

Now, I'm not a member of any 'Education Mafia' (so far as I know). I understand the 'Teacher Unions' (and other presumed components of what I believe comprise the 'Education Mafia') have at least several millions of teachers in the US. I do accept that it is very likely that some (perhaps many) aspects of the policies and doings of the Teacher Unions [TUs], etc, may run counter to the important - even crucial - goal of "developing effective educational systems". However, I cannot believe that there is any hope of reaching even a single one of those teachers who may be members of TUs by advocating "Put the Education Mafia in jail!" (They are all likely simply to 'turn off their minds').

A very similar argument holds in respect to "Blow up the Schools of Education!"

The above two 'recommendations' are (I believe) elements of entirely useless 'rhetoric'. (Do feel free to correct me if my usage of the word 'rhetoric' is wrong).

It is also my belief that, in fact, the ONLY way forward to "developing effective educational systems" (whether for the USA or for India or for anyplace else) is by enlisting the great majority of teachers (including those teaching in and being taught by the 'Schools of Education') in the task. This can, hopefully, be accomplished someday - but certainly not via the two recommendations above. We are today far from enlisting those teachers into any effective practical means to improve/change the 'systems of education'.

The third component of my disagreement with the cohorts and consorts of those who appear to wish to put into practice the above-noted 'strategies' (of 'jailing' and/ or 'blowing up') for "improving educational systems", is on a somewhat deeper, perhaps philosophical, issue.

It has to do with the need to change the current state that "most students today leave school fearing or loathing math". [Here recall President Obama's recent remarks discussing US attitudes to math]. Remarkably enough, this also happened to be the state 60-odd years ago (when I was in school)!!!! Hardly any change in all these many years... which should tell us something is very seriously wrong with the way we have been tackling such societal issues (but we've not recognised this astonishing fact).

How to achieve this objective?

I.e., actually change student attitudes to math.

How can we ensure that 'most students' will (in future at least) leave school appreciating math for what it actually is: something essential for them in their later lives - and something that could be most interesting; something that they could, possibly, find to be even quite beautiful in many ways, as beautiful as poetry or music. (I claim that such change can with no great difficulty be brought about within 5 years or less - if we apply effective problem solving techniques [in systems] to these issues).

(There is some capitalization in the next paragraphs, for which I tender my apologies - I don't know how else I can here get the emphasis I need expressed).

I believe that it is unlikely indeed that much improvement in student attitudes to math would ever come about if parents were to attempt "to PUSH their children to learn math"

This is a view that has been expressed often enough at this forum by Robert Hansen (RH).

It IS possible, I believe, to change student attitudes to math if parents (and teachers) learn effectively to ENCOURAGE their children (/wards) to learn math. In fact, the ENCOURAGEMENT by parents and teachers may well help to enable the children to learn how to PUSH themselves to get over their difficulties in learning math (of which there are sure to be many). ENCOURAGEMENT may enable the children to learn just how to PUSH THEMSELVES. (It has worked in a few cases I have tried out).

[By the way, this minor advance in understanding develops directly from an adequate understanding of the transitive relationship "CONTRIBUTES TO" - specifically, we need to learn that "encouraging children to learn math MAY CONTRIBUTE TO them learning how to PUSH themselves to overcome the difficulties that they will definitely encounter/ be confronted by". The above statement may appear to be trivial - but yet so many of us have not understood it at all!!]
>
> >
> > ii) But yet, I do observe that there are a few less

> fulminations being
> > expressed at Math-teach these days against the
> 'Education Mafia' and the
> > 'Schools of Education'.
> >

>
> I would not be rushing to attribute much if any
> significance to such
> stats. The fog of war is dense.
>

I agree with your last sentence.

However: the underlying issue (which I may not quite 'be getting across' adequately) is: this is NOT a matter for 'war' at all.

It is in fact simply a matter of changing/ modifying some of our societal systems (which may include changing of some of our own attitudes) to achieve certain objectives included within the Mission of "developing more effective educational systems for our felt needs". (We all should realise that "to change one's own attitude on deeply felt issues" is an EXTREMELY difficult undertaking indeed).

Rhetoric will NOT do the trick for us.

We DO need to explore practical means to accomplish certain ends (which we still need to express clearly and accurately - and most of which are still expressed very loosely in the conventional ways we use).
> >
> > This is really the heart of the matter in any

> societal system. GST did
> > not quite provide that.
> >

>
> GST is not over yet. An ongoing meme.
>

Did I EVER claim that 'GST is over'???!!! I agree entirely that it is 'an ongoing meme'.

What I DID (and still DO) claim - if you would kindly notice - is that 'GST' was/is not yet a science - it was a 'general theory' (as its very name clearly tells us).

GST (as generally propounded) used to be practically unusable by ordinary people in the real-life issues they confront in the complex systems within which they live and work. (You might have been able to apply it, perhaps, to issues of interest but certainly most people could not). Issues like, for instance:

- -- "To ensure that I understand all the topics of my math syllabus thoroughly, and THEREBY to improve, very significantly, my results in my math examinations"; (Successfully accomplished by a freshman student - the very first successful application of OPMS by anyone other than myself. I challenge you to provide me with a single instance of any student, anywhere, who accomplished such a Mission using GST [without the Warfield insights on systems]).

- -- "To get myself a job satisfying my interests, skills and talents" (successfully done by several people - I make the same challenge as above);

- -- "To develop the OPMS software" (NOT done successfully by fairly well trained software engineers TILL they spent a fair amount of time on a somewhat different 'Mission', as outlined below);

- -- "To become an effective software designer, within 1/3/5 ... years" (when they had gotten somewhere with this, they found themselves able to 'get their software act together' to accomplish the Mission earlier stated;

- -- "To use the OPMS approach in my work" (To an extent, done successfully by me, by applying OPMS. NOT done successfully by a sizable number of people to whom I've shown it; however, it has been done successfully by some); following the failures in this Mission, one of my current Missions is:

- -- "To increase, significantly, the number of people using OPMS for their own Missions";

- -- "To convince my co-directors in Interactive LogicWare [ILW] to use OPMS in their day-to-day work" (I was entirely unsuccessful with this Mission - and, indeed, ILW had to fold when it was on the point of some success in its major Mission, noted below:);

- -- "To develop the OPMS software and market it in India/abroad" (ILW Mission, which ultimately failed as ILW folded); [I am now working separately on this as my own 'Mission' for which I shall be launching a new Company during this year].

- -- "To remove the shame of 40% of Indian children suffering malnutrition when we actually have plenty of food in India!" (I've not yet been successful in stimulating an appropriate group to take up this Mission).

[There are several hundreds of such societal Missions that would I class as 'ongoing' - or they will be ongoing when I get the right groups together].

- -- "To learn to apply the OPMS approach effectively in real life issues" (my personal Mission; ongoing for many years, as a 'sub'-Mission that I took up after working on the next Mission for a while).

- -- "To propagate and apply the OPMS, in India and elsewhere" (my personal Mission, taken up some months after I invented the OPMS concept - after successfully trying out various simpler Missions. Ongoing - but see above Mission which has become primary. Later, ILW took this up as an 'organisational Mission').

You may notice that it would be difficult indeed to apply GST - as 'GST' - to ANY of the above-noted issues (or, in fact, to hundreds of thousands of other issues that are of interest to millions of people who are immersed/ embedded in 'systems' of various kinds). It DOES become possible to apply GST through the insights that Warfield came up with. (These insights are inbuilt when we use the OPMS approach).
>
> With me, like with Kenneth Boulding, it became more
> critical of and/or
> independent of Economics, while describing the same
> turf. The Henry George
> school in Economics (a school of thought, somewhat
> obscure) seems closer to
> my brand of GST in crediting sun energy for a steady
> flow of income, grant income in our books.
>

OK. But tell me how you are getting along in helping others to apply 'your brand of GST' to issues of interest to them. I am very happy if you are getting a steady flow of income and grant income. But do tell me how a student of 'your brand of GST' may have applied it, for instance, to any issue like the one noted at the head of the above-noted list of Missions. (That was done by a user of OPMS - and he did most of that without any guidance from me after I showed him OPMS, and convinced him that he should try it out).

If you can convince me that 'your brand of GST' would be useful for such a purpose (in such conditions), I shall study it with very keen interest indeed.
>
> Humans revector solar income (includes organic
> produce) into channels of
> their own making (water wheels turning mills and so
> on, the water cycle
> being powered by sun energy and gravity). My website
> pages on GST have all
> these little diagrams with the sun pointing at the
> Earth and captions like
> "current == currency".
>

I've seen several of your website pages. Broadly, I believe your website does not, so far as I know, 'adequately' address any of the issues noted above - or serve as preliminaries to those issues.

It does probably serve, as perhaps you intended, as a primer on GST. (I already knew a fair bit about GST, so I did not use it for that kind of purpose at all).

To my mind, the real underlying issue for both you and me may well be the 'Mission':

"To convince people that the 'systems approach' is a useful way to help them live and work within complex societal systems'". (Using the OPMS approach, I find steady progress, though admittedly, in the absence of a live website, by no means anywhere near as much progress as I would desire).

In fact, much of what I write here at Math-teach is simply a 'prose articulation' of various models I construct in support of the above Mission (here somwhat specified for math issues). At another forum, the "Guardian" and the "Comment is Free: forums, I have been working out such prose articulations in support of various other 'societal Missions' that are discussed there.

You may be acquained with Gene Bellinger's website on 'Mental Model Musings' (http://www.systems-thinking.org/). When I get my own website up, hopefully in a few months from now, I intend to provide that as useful 'preliminary material link' for people intending to apply the 'Warfield approach' (as exemplified in OPMS) to issues of concern to them.
>
> > While GST is indeed where several of Warfield's
> contributions to 'systems
> > science' arose from, I believe the crucial insight
> was absent there. For
> > one thing, GST was not a 'science' - it was a
> 'general theory'. The other
> > crucial insight, namely that we do need to enable
> people to work on and
> > resolve their own problems, at their own levels,
> was also (generally)
> > absent in GST.
> >
> > The crucial insight was certainly absent that, in

> systems, what we (as
> > individuals and as groups) really do need to do is
> simply to look at and
> > understand just how the factors in the respective
> systems may be
> > inter-related to the others (and to the purpose[s]
> of the system).
> >
>
> Another author I write about and share the teachings
> of is this R.
> Buckminster Fuller, who references GST while picking
> up on the task of
> needing better integration among the disciplines.
>

I agree - but see above. I observe that Buckminster Fuller's VERY profound insights are today largely forgotten by (or unknown to) most people. Perhaps, at some stage (after my website is up), I may try to articulate - and work on - a Mission such as "To bring Bucky Fuller's very profound insights home to a much wider public". [If I do take this up, I shall certainly let you know about it and seek your kind contributions to the Mission].
>
> He pioneers a new humanities language (readable as
> prose) that's so laced
> with rather precise uses of STEM terms, in ways
> consistent with the grain
> of current usage (e.g. "frequency"), as to gather
> momentum across a number
> of universities, starting in North Carolina. His
> kind of thinking also
> permeated the US military, with the hexapent dome in
> the Pentagon garden
> (1940s).
>

I agree, but see above. In particular, I strongly disagree that Bucky Fuller's insights are readily "readable as prose" per your claim. To most people, they are not usable at all (as is evident from the state of STEM today.

I claim that a fair amount of modeling work is required to enable this to happen (say, to do something like "to enable people at large to study and then apply Bucky Fuller's insights in depth"). I would hope, at some stage after my website is up, to do something along those lines.
>
> Both assets (a) and (c) below cover these topics from
> different angles:
>
> (a) Divided Spheres (STEM primer, geometric, Popko)
> (b) Digital Mathematics (STEM textbook, Litvin &
> Litvin)
> (c) King of Infinite Space (a bio, Siobhan)
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/arts/design/Richard-
> Buckminster-Fuller-a-Gentle-Revolutionist.html?pagewan
> ted=all&_r=0
>

I shall try and study all three assets a, b, and c (as well as the NYT article) soonest possible. I sometimes find it difficult to download things if they are longish; if they contain videos, etc, etc.
>
> > For adequate 'understanding of the system', the
> specific and crucial
> > relationship simply has to be "CONTRIBUTES TO" (its
> 'negative', "HINDERS"
> > is also relevant).
> >
> > The'CPM scheduling' people had since the 1950s I

> believe been promoting
> > "PRECEDES" as the relationship to look at, clearly
> not realising that in
> > any unknown system, we simply cannot come to
> understand the precedence of
> > Events and Milestones in the system till we gather
> some prior needed
> > understanding about it - and this is available to
> us by trying to find out
> > how things may "CONTRIBUTE TO" each other.
> >
> > (Of course, CPM scheduling did not actually look at

> 'systems' explicitly,
> > though the systems are indeed, I believe, implicit
> there. The CPM people
> > clearly needed exposure to GST, which seems to have
> been absent in their
> > considerations. Robert Hansen is an instance of a
> person who got himself
> > seriously 'hung up' on "PRECEDES").
>
> A lot of this thinking has since been superseded by
> those designing
> algorithms for parallel processors. The need to
> think precisely about
> concurrency in various walks of life has fed back
> into GST, as it has into
> other disciplines.
>
> http://youtu.be/OhBgsJKLGLc (a talk I attended, not
> my video however)
>

I cannot readily view videos here.

In regard to your statements above, I would seek answers to questions like:
"Very specifically, how would algorithms for parallel processors directly help, say, a student who may desire to get over his/her fear and loathing of math?" I really do not believe that 'parallel processing' is much understood today - even by the 'computer community' (except by a few 'exceptional people'). I would hope, at some stage, to collaborate with a couple of exceptional computer people to work on such an objective.

If there is anything that might help in issues like this (or any of such issues, problems and Missions as I've noted above) - I'd be most interested to study and to try and 'integrate' that into my own practice. Else, it is just theory (about which I may be interested as a matter of scientific curiosity - but I may not be able to use directly).

I have ALWAYS found that directly modeling things using "CONTRIBUTES TO" does help 'integrate' things quite effectively in the mind (i.e., to help enhance 'understanding') - but this insight requires that a person actually does a fair bit of such modeling to understand it. (If you've not actually done such modeling - using "CONTRIBUTES TO" transitively in your modeling - you may not understand what I'm claiming: it has to do with the 'modeling meaning' of the transitive relationship "CONTRIBUTES TO" [Please do see below as to why I often use caps here at Math-teach for the relationship "CONTRIBUTES TO"]).
>
> > Warfield also perceived (right to begin with) that
> the specific
> > relationship that we need to look at in systems is
> "CONTRIBUTES TO". When
> > we come to understand the "CONTRIBUTIONS" of
> various system factors to each
> > other (and to the purpose[s] of the system, we may
> then begin to understand
> > the system - and with some understanding we may be
> able to work effectively
> > in and on it.
> > >
> > >One of these systems is TDD (test driven
> > > development) a branch of Agile. You let one

> group write tests for the
> > other and then switch.
> > >
> > I've seen Agile and TDD. (Though I'm not an
> expert, by any means).
> > Useful approach; I want to do something with
> Agile. However, I believe
> > the understanding that THE crucial relationship in
> systems is
> > "CONTRIBUTION" is absent (or, at least, it's not
> handled explicitly
> > enough). In any case, I don't believe either
> Agile or TDD will enable
> > anyone, at any level, to identify an issue or
> problem and work on it
> > starting with their currently available ideas.
> Both are clearly approaches
> > for specialists and 'experts' - but we need an
> approach that enables
> > non-specialists, 'non-experts' to work effectively
> on resolving issues and
> > problems.
> > >
> >
>
> You're still a proponent of the all-uppercase keyword
> I see ("CONTRIBUTION"). I'm more from the e.e. cummings
> side of the fence, the unix world, with everything lowercase, almost.
>

Yes, and OK. However, I'm afraid you have not understood WHY I often capitalise "CONTRIBUTES TO" - let me try and explain:

I do find I need, on several occasions, to emphasise something (like, say "CONTRIBUTES TO" - because of the centrality of this relationship in systems). Math-teach unfortunately does not alas enable or allow giving such emphasis in any other way except by capitalising it.

Now, mainly because few except myself have as yet seemed to have understood "the significance and importance of the transitive relationship 'CONTRIBUTES TO' in systems", few have actually used it. I'd anticipate that things would improve a bit when my website comes up, in due course. Anyway, till then I shall continue capitalising, thank you.

[I should perhaps point out that the capitalisation of this particular word is NOT because I want an "all-uppercase keyword" or anything of that nature].

By the way, in regard to 'capitalisation', you may like to check out the Times of India 'style-guide' (if they have one): nowadays (for quite some time now, I have noticed), they have almost entirely given up capitalising the personal pronoun "I". (I observe that you have apparently retained the capitalisation of the personal pronoun "I", as have I). The Times of India people use 'uppercase' "I" ONLY (regret caps) when it is THE VERY FIRST word in a sentence. The Times of India would have written your above first sentence in that paragraph as:

"You're still a proponent of the all-uppercase keyword i see ('CONTRIBUTION')".

I personally would tend to disagree rather strongly with the Times of India that their locution adds anything at all to clarity of communication (as practically everyone has been taught since kidschool to capitalise the personal pronoun "I" (in English).

Well, OK, you, ee cummings and the Times of India are most welcome to do just as you choose (even if I happen to disagree with any of you. [I have no disagreement with ee cummings, as he did what he did for very specific and doubtless very sound reasons).

"Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks" is what I'd generally believe - unless on issues of clarity in communication or of fundamental import. It's like the difference between "PUSHES" and "ENCOURAGES" (as discussed elsewhere in this post).
>
> Management and software engineering go hand in hand.
> Developing a STEM
> curriculum without serious consideration of the cyber
> tools and toys just
> leaves a lot of serious choices to others.
>

Neither 'management' nor 'software engineering' has as yet tackled the problem of 'tackling a problem' effectively. I had already provided one instance where the 'software engineering' approach had failed to enable my (very competent) software engineers in ILW in the Mission:

"To develop the OPMS software".

The OPMS approach I had suggested to ILW software engineers actually helped them with that Mission (in practice, on the ground), for one thing - and then later (even better) actually helped them get new, exciting jobs when ILW folded. That was at the bottom of the 'dot-com bust' - and yet they were able to get themselves excellent jobs (at very good salaries), mainly because they had in fact become very effective software designers by then!

The above may (or may not) help convince you of some validity of my arguments. However, some modeling of my arguments using "CONTRIBUTES TO" as a (transitive) modeling relationship may help convince.

I agree that the 'discipline of management' has provided several useful insights to all of us - but it has, I' afraid, signally failed in a GREAT many others. Examples abound all around, practically everywhere you look in our societal systems (whether in the US or in India or anywhere else in the world).

Above all, 'management' as such may well have 'studied' GST - but it has not, I believe, understood at all how to integrate and then apply GST insights (except to claim various fantabulous stuff about their 'systems approach').

For instance, Peter Senge's otherwise quite sound 'Fifth Discipline' is an instance of the quite typical and very superficial 'systems approach' of most management gurus.
>
> I encourage school faculties to advocate for their
> own schools, as a place
> to develop their own unique approaches.
>

Definitely. But just HOW should they go about doing that? What is their action plan? How do they go about creating any such action plan? (In particular, if there is anything novel and actually unique about their approach).
>
> Polytechnical schools should manage their own servers
> at some level,
> because it's what they teach, what they profess to
> know, just as ag schools
> should grow some of their own food.
>

I agree - but I do not see polytechnics managing their own servers (at any level - to the best of my rather limited understanding). Why not? In my view, they have simply not articulated such a Mission and have not actually tried to develop, from their own available good ideas, 'systems' "to enable management of their own servers".

Our 'agricultural universities' here in Karnataka state do, I believe, grow some of their own food. I understand this is done rather ineffectively - once again, that is mainly because they do not use the 'systems approach', in practice on the ground (just like our polytechnics do not use the systems approach, despite many of them knowing a good bit 'about' GST).
>
> Anyway, the CONTRIBUTION of the sun, a nearby star,
> to the planetary
> economy, is not to be overlooked and text books which
> do commit this
> omission are a curious genre, a layer in intellectual
> archeology coincident
> with a dark age in human thought.
>

True enough. But I've not yet seen an adequate understanding of such "CONTRIBUTION" almost anywhere - and certainly not in any of the current 'economic nonsciences'. Perhaps economics will become a real 'science' someday soon - when it does something practical to recognise such "CONTRIBUTION".

I believe Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen did quite long ago move some distance along this route, but nothing actually happened subsequently in the theory or the practice of 'economics' by reason of the quite deep insights he had "CONTRIBUTED" to economics. Why not? Time, perhaps, for some economists to understand the centrality of the relationship "CONTRIBUTES" in human affairs! (Emphasis intended).

Likewise, it is my belief that the quite profound 'economics insights' of EF Schumacher have largely been lost to the theory and practice of economics as it stands today.

Good enough reason, perhaps, for me to describe economics as "the dismal nonscience" (not quite nonsense, but pretty close often enough).
> >
>
> > Well, yes, I recall from my very early 'Boy Scout'
> days, the very useful
> > character traits and skills (including the need for
> cooperation between
> > individuals along with 'some' competition) that the
> movement seeks to build
> > - in many ways quite successfully. (Of course, the
> 'scout movement' in
> > India must have developed rather differently from
> how it did in its nation
> > of origin [Britain] and I imagine it must have
> developed quite differently
> > in the US as well. I'm not adequately aware about
> any of this to comment -
> > except that I would believe that the underlying
> philosophy is indeed most
> > useful for all individuals in society.
> > >
> >
>
> Boy Scout movements were amenable to hosting
> "nationalism", which is
> already ritualistic, so you get a lot of flag stuff
> in US scouting.
>

The US is, yes, a rather 'ritualistically nationalist' nation (as indeed are most nations - but we DO have nations today, and I don't believe we are about to get ourselves out of this ritualistic mindset [which I believe should more properly have been consigned to the garbage heap by the end of the 19th century].

In the case of 'US nationalism', it's a part of 'American exceptionalism', perhaps? I much prefer the phrase "US exceptionalism" as more properly recognising the fact that the US is NOT the whole of America - but I must confess that I don't believe I have ever yet managed to convince even a single US citizen about this rather simple geographical fact!
>
>At the
> recent Eagle Scout honoring ceremony I attended, the
> US national flag was
> presented as a gift to both boys receiving the status
> of Eagle, a top rank,
> along with a copy of 'The Peoples History' by Howard
> Zinn, an interesting
> synergy, perhaps symptomatic of a new synthesis
> within the dialectic -- a
> process in the Zeitgeist.
>

Hopefully the book would have had some desirable effect on those scouts - and hopefully the national flag would not have had the effect of enhancing feelings of 'US exceptionalism'. (Perhaps, the next time around, you might like to consider providing a copy of "The People's History" to ALL members of the scout troop? That would, I believe do plenty of good)
>
> > > Software engineering is helping managers with
> many
> > > difficult tasks. The
> > > importance of version control with formal

> branching
> > > and merging is being
> > > recognized by the legal profession and I think

> before
> > > long the
> > > Congressional Record might find itself on Github

> or
> > > one of those (probably
> > > something more customized for legislation).
> > >

> > It is, indeed (helping managers with extremely
> difficult tasks). However
> > 'software engineering' as it stands is, I believe,
> somewhat deficient in
> > that it does not adequately inculcate a
> 'problem-solving approach' in its
> > practitioners. I confronted this problem when I
> tried to initiate
> > development of the OPMS software. The software
> people just were not able
> > to understand how to create and develop the
> software. As I'm not a
> > software engineer myself, we faced some
> difficulties - till we all learned
> > that it had to be handled as a problem outside
> 'software engineering' (to
> > begin with, at least).
> >

>
> Management finally embraced the coding world when it
> realized it was
> wrestling with the wrong stereotype: they saw geeks
> as socially inept
> solitary types who retreated into windowless
> basements to pursue their
> asocial activities, sometimes returning to the
> surface with miracle "killer
> apps" that could be great sources of pure profit.
>
> Then the light dawned: coding is often an intensely
> social activity with
> input from others coming in through chat windows,
> version control sites,
> emails, live streaming. You also sit on couches and
> code together. You
> geek out in smallish pods. The donuts and pizza are
> real, as is the beer.
> But you need to stay sharp so it may be more coffee
> or... (back to
> stereotypes) Jolt Cola and Red Bull.
>
> The light came on with the advent of Linux, which
> took the world by storm
> -- clearly not a solo project. Apparently those
> geeks weren't being
> asocial in those basements, they were sharing the
> Internet.
>

I don't know how much "light has dawned" in management circles. I can testify that little has in fact dawned AT ALL in management circles in India. (Nationalism, ahoy!)
>
> Many spectators following the "dot com bomb" assumed
> that was a blip in the
> 1980s and 1990s, as if Linux had since gone away.
> But what happened
> instead is a more mature management stopped thinking
> in terms of
> get-rich-quick stupid pet trick schemes (though these
> still abound) and
> embraced the technology more for what it was, here to
> stay.
>

To the best of my understanding, far too much of 'US management' is STILL involved in a great many of such schemes. I realise you acknowledge that such schemes still abound - but I do know that (in India at least; perhaps in the US as well) the 'primary aim of management' is, in fact:

"to make a profit".

In fact, in order to unlock the potential 'societal value of management' managers do have to realise that the 'management as a discipline' must include a couple of important realisations:

- -- "the 'primary aim of management' is to manage effectively" ('A'); (of course, we do need to ensure adequate understanding of what this means, in practice on the ground)
- -- the VERY significant differences between 'effectiveness' and 'efficiency'. (Most managers are unaware, alas). [I don't know how it is in the USA].

Profits may well increase (indeed, I claim that it surely would in general tend to increase) through recognition of the above - but managers in India (and, for all I know, in the USA) are largely innocent of these realisations. (Managment could certainly specify the aim "to make a profit" ['B'] - they will then find out that they can work in such a way that "'A' WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO 'B'". If they were to use such an approach (i.e., via "CONTRIBUTES TO", they would also find that they'd very rarely go wrong in integrating their 'societal' goals with their 'more primary' goals of "managing effectively" and "surviving in sometimes quite difficult economic circumstances".

Now, my claim is that the above would be readily recognised by practically all if managers were only to enter into the rigorous discipline of constructing realisations of their 'mental models' using "CONTRIBUTES TO" as the fundamental system relationship.

But most managers in India are like Robert Hansen: they're all entirely hung up on "PRECEDENCE" as the fundamental system relationship. The difficulty is that "PRECEDENCE" is EXACTLY the wrong relationship to enable understanding of the underlying systems.

The difference between "CONTRIBUTES TO" and "PRECEDES" (both transitive relationships in systems) is somewhat akin, I believe, to the rather profound difference between the distinctively different philosophies of:

- -- ENCOURAGING children to learn math' and
- -- PUSHING children to learn math.

The difference may appear trivial to those who have not adequately modeled using "CONTRIBUTES TO" - but it is, in fact, quite profound in regard to the way we 'handle systems'.
>
> The discipline of TDD helped many companies invest in
> a style of code
> growth that permitted continuous testing with
> immediate notice of breakage
> when developing new features, a style less prone to
> bottleneck compared
> with some guy in the back room, the only one who
> "understands" a vast code
> pile.
>

The idea of 'continuous testing' is, indeed, a great leap forward that software engineering has now (I believe) quite solidly imbibed - but I would tend to believe that the 'philosophy underlying continuous testing' is not adequately understood in most companies (to my understanding; certainly in India, probably in the USA too). It's a change in philosophical stance that takes some intellectual development. "CONTRIBUTES TO" is a useful system relationship to enable this change in stance.
>
> > (However, what IS interesting is that, at that
> point when ILW shut up
> > shop, it happened to be at the very bottom of the
> 'dot-com bust' - but yet
> > ALL the members of the ILW software team were able
> to land themselves
> > excellent jobs - because, by this time, they had
> indeed become "very
> > effective s/w engineers"!! (That was their original
> Mission - and it served
> > them well).
> > >
> >
>
> It's a joy to managers to come upon a subculture that
> has already trained
> itself in working together. The GNU project was what
> was behind Linux:
> the set of tools needed to write an operating system:
> emacs, gcc etc..
>
> A challenge though was these geeks also had developed
> loyalties and didn't
> want to buy into an older design for intellectual
> property that would be at
> the cost of collaborative sharing. A system of
> "copylefts" (a form of
> copyrighting) was invented to keep the older set of
> reflexes at bay.
>
> This strategy of "world domination" (retaining access
> to one's tools,
> retaining mastery) has paid off handsomely. Instead
> of trying to "beat"
> Linux, IBM jumped on board. Shared public knowledge,
> like mathematics and
> science itself, means shared skills and shared
> literacy, and therefore
> collaborative capability.
>
> If you lock away the tools for a tiny group of elite
> select or
> pre-ordained, you create intolerable bottle-necks for
> yourself while
> everyone else works around you, leaving you in the
> dust.
>

> >
>
> > Of course. Software engineering (and developments
> from it) has been
> > responsible for a huge transformation in a great
> many aspects of our lives.
> > However, as we have realised in India, that is not
> enough at all: just
> > now, major parts of North India have been suffering
> from a 'Himalayan
> > tsunami' so to speak - for which we were ENTIRELY
> unprepared in ALL
> > respects. It's clear that the need for effective
> 'problem solving' is
> > somewhat more fundamental (arises from a more
> fundamental human need) than
> > 'software engineering'. It really is a 'habit of
> mind', I claim - and we
> > do not have enough of that at all in societies
> anywhere.
> >
> > GSC
> >

>
> Whereas I'm claiming that geek cultures growing up
> around the evolution of
> the Internet have pioneered new collaboration skills
> that spill over,
> outside just the activity of writing code.
>

I accept much of that.
>
> These same people participate in self government and
> on standards
> committees. They engage in peer review. They blend
> in and through
> academia. They are helping us redesign STEM
> education to include more of
> these 'lessons learned'.
>

Also accepted.
>
> True, we need to continue evolving and maturing our
> management practices.
>

Of course. And part of the issue of "continuing to evolve and to mature" is to begin to understand, perhaps, that "GST also has to evolve and to mature".
>
> I'm not saying we have reached some kind of pinnacle
> or final apex.
>

Right. The same is true of GST.
>
> I'm just suggesting that GST is alive and well and
> continues to morph with
> each generation of contribution.
>

I do not deny that "GST is alive and well". I do claim that it has "to evolve and mature". I suggest you may like to look at Warfield's work in some depth for profound insights into just how that may be acccomplished. (By the way, the late George Klir was a major GST person who was probably the first GST person who adequately understood just what Warfield had accomplished. I understand he even brought out a major GENERAL SYSTEMS PROBLEM SOLVER that recognised Warfield's "CONTRIBUTIONS". [I've not seen this myself yet. At some stage, I shall try to study it - I've only had a brief glimpse: seems sound, but not really profound].


GSC


Message was edited by: GS Chandy


Message was edited by: GS Chandy


Date Subject Author
6/17/13
Read Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/17/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/17/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/17/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
6/17/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/17/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Domenico Rosa
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times > K-calculus
Clyde Greeno
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/19/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/19/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/18/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/19/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/19/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/19/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/19/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Dave L. Renfro
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Richard Strausz
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
W. Stephen Wilson
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/22/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
W. Stephen Wilson
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/20/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Robert Hansen
6/22/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Joe Niederberger
6/22/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/23/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
kirby urner
6/21/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/24/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/24/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/24/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/24/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/25/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/26/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
Wayne Bishop
6/26/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy
6/28/13
Read Re: Math Wars Philosophizing in the NY Times
GS Chandy

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