On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:22 PM, Robert Hansen <email@example.com> wrote:
> On Jan 1, 2014, at 12:22 PM, kirby urner <kirby.urner@GMAIL.COM> wrote: >
>> I'm just saying, whoever is busy trying to separate everything so >> strictly so that everything stays compartmentalized, should slack off a bit. >> That's not work that needs doing. Waste of time.
> No one is busy trying to separate things. They just naturally separated. > You act as if you?re the first person with the idea of bringing coding into > the math classroom. Teachers have been trying to do this since the > invention of the computer. It was really big in the 80?s. Every other page > had a program. > > Yes, I'm aware of numerous attempts to get more computing power into K-12, and to give students more power over computers. Logo was a big deal. Those same reformists / idealists continue pushing for better integration to this day.
Having become aware of these debates, as a high school math teacher myself in one 1980s chapter, and a textbook editor in another (1984), I joined this camp of reformist myself. Other names I count as similarly biased: Papert, Iverson, Kay, Droujkova, Litvins... Shuttleworth, Wolfram, Gray (a former boss).
A lot of people are confused by our position as "technology in the classroom" for them means TI graphing calculators so they don't understand how one can be "pro technology" and yet "anti calculator" (in the sense of the latter hogging waaay too much mind share over say ubuntu or debian or whatever).
I advocate "math through programming" and "digital math for the 21st century" and such memes. I'm one of many, a small army (small but not tiny). I've got web pages, example lesson plans, and write-ups of the test pilots that I do wherein I test-implement and report back. Martian Math at Reed College for example -- out there for inspection. 
It doesn?t work. At least not through algebra. Because it is enough of a > task just to teach the math, let alone add the extra burden of learning how > to program. >
Lets say you're right, for the sake of getting on with the conversation.
> > But after algebra there is an opening for CS. As its own subject with its > own traits and interests, like physics. And there will be math involved. > Like physics. > > You're so eager for that to be how it is: CS its own thing, distinct from math, even in K-12 where neither is the same as either in college.
If Canada goes with the UK and the Raspberry Pi classroom becomes a more integrated STEM classroom, with not much emphasis on whether it's S, T, E or M, at any given moment, you'll probably think that's pretty weird. Canadians are hosting Pycon this year. I'll have a better read in a few months, on whether they've achieved escape velocity from the "dumber downies" (i.e. the limper minded in Lower48).
How could a different culture decide to connect the dots differently and not buy into the tired / obsolete categories we have, mostly by historical accident, a result of unplanned growth, lots of surprises? Doesn't seem possible, but then I guess that's what "different culture" means.
I tend to think lazy mono-lingual Anglo thinkers are less likely to keep up than some who think in other languages. English comes with a lot of induced brainwashing about how the world works -- superstitions, irrational beliefs. Not that any language is without baggage, and as more and more of the world's peoples learn English, the less it remains under the control of a few tribes. Kinda like Islam: no longer owned or controlled by Middle Easterners, at least not exclusively. So maybe the Anglo speakers will get smarter too.
> There doesn?t seem to be a problem, except that they practically don?t > teach CS in high school at all. > > But you aren?t talking about that, are you? You are talking about mom, pop > and the kids all programming. > > Here is why that doesn't work and what you don?t get about technology and > progress. >
Right, they practically don't teach CS in high school at all. Yet they hypocritically talk out of the other side of their mouths about needing to stay competitive in the world and teach STEM subjects more effectively. It doesn't add up. Until you remember who's in charge. 
> > You are stuck in the days of dBase when a single person could write an > entire operating system. The problem is, writing modern applications is out > of the reach of the casual programmer. And any problem that anyone short of > a climatologist could come up with can be solved with a spreadsheet. Why > would people casually write any code? The demand is not there. > > Say my goal is better understanding of group theory. Given a little reading knowledge of a computer language, some practice over the years, we've been able to hammer home math concepts for quite awhile now (the language started showing up in 8th grade, in this hypothetical curriculum).
The students have used Euclid's Method for the GCD (write to your Congressman if missing in your zip code -- be a whistle blower), know how to plot curves in space (not just in flatland), and so they're ready for "permutations", in this case mappings of letters to letters.
They're like high school juniors, but not so abysmally computer illiterate as are the disabled of today (average adults at only 50% of capacity, mostly out of fear and simply getting left behind, robbed of their rightful heritage by impoverished curricula).
They learn to multiply such objects (P-type, permutation type), and see how the concept of inverse applies, neutral element -- they're much further along in some math topics. They understand about "closure" and "Cayley tables". 
Having a coding language at one's elbow is like having paper and pencil, or a calculator: it's a tool for exploration and understanding, a tool of the trade, any trade.
By starting young, we keep more doors open longer.
You'll always have that past exposure to build on, just like hiking trails improves your trail hiking abilities. Do it young, do it often, keep doing it. Having spent time in Bavaria, I know a lot of Germans who live this -- the only way to make it to 70 and still drink that beer. :-D
By analogy, we want them to "work out" with these various broadly used technologies (they used to call school a "gymnasium" in the old country). Computers are so lexical, so string oriented. People think "number crunching" but it's really "record keeping". Basic stuff. Play with regular expressions, pattern matching, trip-routing...
No, maybe it's not calculus, this discrete math / group theory / record keeping stuff, but it's accessible, fun, and has applications.
So why couldn't this be 3rd year high school, instead of Algebra 2 (pre-calculus). I'm not saying either / or. I'm saying more choices.
> You are also stuck in the days when building a website meant writing some > HTML. Websites have not been casual activities for almost a decade now. > Again, the demand is not there. > > And SQL, that was never casual. > > I reject your theory that it's a waste of time to train with tools that only professionals actually get paid to use.
"Never ice skate because only those who practice 10 hours a day will ever be on TV."
My school is one floor above Make:  -- the whole emphasis is DIY (do it yourself), including some coding.
"Never learn anything if it's not translatable into a career skill tomorrow or the day after at most" -- what a lousy investment strategy. seems to me. Too short term. You were never a guidance counselor I hope.
I think there's overwhelming evidence that integrating more programming into math class works, and works well.
The picture has improved and continues to improve (in some pockets). MIT's Scratch has been great. The Turtle Art community has continued to flourish.
You apparently have no strong arguments against a better curriculum because a better curriculum is both doable and has already been achieved in various locales.
I mix math and programming and geometry in interesting original yet integrated ways. And it works.
I think my camp is winning, just at a somewhat glacial pace on average. A long uphill slog.
Also, I actually am focused on adult education these days, usually presuming a high school diploma. So I already take for granted some "average high school" level of education.
I'm expecting others to keep hewing away in K-12 mostly without me for the time being, in the knowledge that a lot of what works is still transferable / sharable (especially in "mixed age" classrooms -- just a few families maybe).