> I like that the title uses Algebra II instead of > Algebra 2, as that gives the flavor of how musty-dusty > is so much of the heritage here. I also like that he > keeps bringing it back to Chicago, where I also lecture > on curriculum sometimes, with another workshop coming > up shortly. >
I'll be giving a workshop in Chicago and then I need to take the rental car to visit a company that works closely with Wolfram's.
Like Wolfram, I think algebra needs to transcend its musty-dusty past ala Dolciani (text book series) and let us bring all the function and mapping stuff to the console, to interact via keyboard, not just paper and pencil, which is still a useful medium (I can't say the same for wood pulp textbooks though).
At the console, you have free access to functions like zip( ), which chooses the next one from each set that you give it, making a bunch of new groupings:
Yes, there are some nuances to talk about here. I fed it sets, using curly braces, but the listed output has only curvy parens (parentheses). Students are clued to pay attention to these niceties, and guess what, if they're ESL or even EFL, that's the kind of tight focus they need anyway. Hyper-attention to grammar and punctuation: it pays off.
So lets not deny them their hours at the console.
In musty-dusty math, behind the times, behind the curve, there's this big step to "multi-variate" or "multi- variable" calculus. For over a decade, we've drilled 'em in f(x) ("eff of eks") ala Dolciani and Saxon, ala text- books galore. If we were feeling frisky some day, we might go f(x,y) and live on the wild side. But didn't zip eat three arguments just now? And couldn't there have been more? What if your function notation is not only machine executable but much better developed at the same time? Not only do we have all the functions a scientific calculator has, we have oh so much more.
Sometimes I think schools must be staffed by the stingiest, most ungenerous people on planet Earth, not to let students play with these well-designed, relevant, smarter-than- textbook toys.
But then I slap myself: it's not the teachers' fault. No one has been teaching *them*. When was the last time you, the overworked math teacher, got paid to sit at a console and play with our zip( ) function. Never, right? Even though our function, and everything it depends on, is really cheap. Even though your students would enjoy the change of pace, so many of them.
I'll be in Champaign-Urbana, site of University of Illinois, one of the players when it comes to setting the tone and speed of many a high school. I'll be making fun of Algebra II, as usual, not because you have to be smart to learn it but because you have to be dumb. You have to be a sucker for all that musty-dusty stuff that pretends it's state of that art at Musty Dusty High, then it's off to Musty Dusty College. Lots of moola, lots of dough. But do they ever get to the good stuff? A lot of times, no.
I'm inviting the humanities faculties to grab as much of the unclaimed territory as they like, as I think the math faculties had right of first refusal and they've refused in spades. It'll be ours now, all this node and edges stuff, hyperlinks, http, HTML... and Python. Computing was always more lexical anyway. Numbers are back seat. The math faculties didn't want to stay up on technology, but what if the history faculties do? You say "fat chance" but I see and hear wolves licking their chops, lean and hungry.
Who knows? Maybe like the Lex Language Teaching Institute in Japan, we'll start teaching Fourier Transforms. We have the right technology, after all, not like those lazy math bums with the "scientific calculators" (guffaw).