
Re: Article on Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe
Posted:
Sep 28, 2014 1:24 PM


Hey Carleton 
Thanks for wading in and joining our discussion, which is characterized by a fair amount of snarkiness and ongoing accusations of phoniness.
mathteach has been contentious for years given math teaching, in the US in particular, has been characterized by "math wars".
Years ago, we had some guy on a hunger strike over text books in California. I don't think he was a direct poster, but we heard about him a lot. At least all this passion gives the lie to the stereotype that math teachers comprise nothing but a school of "cold fish".
For my part, I used to teach high school calculus (and geometry and algebra 2... and world history) in a Catholic private school but that was way back in the 1980s. More recently, I've done sporadic more experiment al teaching for a local (Portland, Oregon) nonprofit named Saturday Academy. That's where I've put into practice a lot of my "math through programming" ideas, which are representative of an undercurrent in the wider debates i.e. there are a fair number of people who advocate for having programming languages be more integral to the math learning experience.
My agenda is to remap what we think of as "high school" to allow essentially two math tracks after Algebra, which these days I'm referring to as the delta and lambda calculus tracks respectively. The former is the conventional precalc / calc that I went through as a high school student and later taught. The latter is a an umbrella for a more CSfriendly track that is nevertheless for credit in the same way delta calc is for credit (versus the older practice of making anything computerrelated only for "elective" credit).
Robert is tacitly on board with my agenda but wants to stick with calling my lambda track "computer science". I'm more into making STEM or STEAM the unifying heuristic and not labeling CS separately from that, at least not in K12. Both delta and lambda calc are tracks through STEM territory and should be leveraged as such i.e. lets not ignore practical applications when it comes to our "story problems".
Speaking of heuristics, I've got a website I call "Heuristics for teachers" where I go into four topic areas in a "Digital Mathematics", already a kind of narrowing to discrete math topics:
Neolithic: study of mathematics historically focusing on the evolution of STEMsavvy in the human species since Stonehenge and before. Includes maritime arts such as navigation and knots.
Supermarket: a way to introduce data tables, a little SQL / no SQL, some object oriented programming. There's an emphasis on "how things work" in an economic sense, using a general systems approach wherein the Earth's biosphere is mostly sunpowered. Links to physics.
Casino: statistics and probability, games of chance, game theory more generally. Many schools would frown on calling it this as "gambling" is considered sinful in the heartland. I leave it to community standards then.
Martian: futuristic and biased towards spatial geometry though also cellular automata and such. Sphere packing and number sequences. More graphing and plotting and links to delta calculus.
http://wikieducator.org/Digital_Math
You'll see that in Martian Math especially I'm interested in bringing in more of the Buckminster Fuller stuff, including his practice of using a tetrahedron as both a model of 3rd powering and as a unit of volume (instead of the conventional regular hexahedron or cube). Again, there are undercurrents in popular culture to consider.
Kirby

