Date: Oct 18, 2012 2:43 PM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: Jo Boaler reveals attacks by Milgram and Bishop
Greg Goodknight posted Oct 18, 2012 10:24 AM (GSC's remarks interspersed):
> On 10/17/2012 08:45 PM, GS Chandy wrote:
> > Responding to Greg Goodknight's post dated Oct 18,
> 2012 4:34 AM:
> > Thank you for your detailed analysis. I shall
> study it and try to integrate your contentions with
> my current understanding of Jo Boaler's work. It is
> refreshing indeed to meet someone doing this kind of
> You'd get more of it if you'd drop your own attitude
> down a notch.
I'm afraid my attitude will not change (see below, for the why of this); sorry about that.
> Reading some E.D.Hirsch might help.
I've read a fair bit of E.D. Hirsch. Beautiful insights.
But no, his insights haven't 'helped' resolve the issues I'm concerned with.
> > in stead of simply pontificating:
> > "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!"
> > "BLOW UP THE SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION!"
> The President of Harvard said their "school of
> Education is a kitten
> that ought to be drowned" back in the 30's.
The President of Harvard, ('30s version) evidently didn't know of practical means to do something practical with his school of education (or with any school of education) - which is why he wanted to 'drown it', so to speak. Nor does the President of Harvard (2012 version, I'm afraid [to the best of my understanding]).
> > "LITTLE PIKANINNIES DON'T LEARN LIKE YOU AND I DO",
> That last one is a fair characterization of what a
> past President of the NCTM said, and not all that off
> from what most Ed departments seem to still believe.
> As for the others, I'd not reject them as useful
> metaphors for fixing the problems in the US.
I don't know what the past President of the NCTM might have said on this - but it is apparently something that Professor Wayne Bishop said not very long ago, if you go by (http://old.post-gazette.com/neigh_city /20021021mathcity2p2.asp) - and I've not seen any denials or retractions from him. People who come out with that kind of sentiment should perhaps remind themselves of a pikaninny who grew up somewhat later to become Ramanujan.
As for the 'others', check out the attachments to my post initiating the thread "On realistic and practical tools for the US education system..." - http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2405705 (with the same seriousness that you made your response to which I had initially responded) - and you may be able to convince yourself that, instead of railing against the 'Education Mafia' or the Ed. Schools (per those silly 'slogans'), it would be useful and productive to use practical means to change/improve their functioning (if that happens to be what is needed). When that was suggested several years ago, what I received from our heroes who moot those slogans was oceans of scorn, contumely and lies (and some of those lies continue to this day). The slogans continue to this very day, as you probably have noted. What is or has been accomplished by those slogans? Precisely nothing! No productive work has come from the sloganeers, but the slogans continue unabated!
> You see, "GS", to argue against
> inquiry/constructivist methods in the
> USA has in the past caused really ugly attacks from
> the NCTM "reformers", who have acted as thugs in the
> past to get their way. To be
> against Mathland or CPM you were assumed to be a
> racist or an extreme
> religious fundamentalist or from some other
> antisocial group;
I have the following points to make (I wanted to make very brief 1- or 2-sentence points, but I've not been successful, I'm afraid):
0. I know little or nothing about Mathland or CPM, etc (and I really have little interest in any of them).
1. Most current, conventional teaching of math leaves a sizable majority of students fearing/loathing math by the time they come out from high school - this is the case in India and I believe it is no different in the USA (where it is apparently considered normal to say "I'm terrible at math!" [It's the same here]) This is, I claim, entirely unnatural and provides clear indication that conventional teaching methods in math have failed. Thus the 'inquiry'/constructivist teaching methods probably with the idea of improve matters. That some of what they do may well be ineffective - but then so are the conventional math teaching methods! (The reformers and the traditionalists are each ineffective in their own ways!) The reformers are at least trying to change things - because things do need to be changed. Good luck to them! That they may not have succeeded very well to date does not affect the basis of my argument. Their methods may be wrong - but their (stated ostensible) motives are spot on.
2. I know little or nothing about "NCTM" and rather little about the feuds that have developed through the 'Math Wars'. I think that, probably these things (the disputes, some of them very ugly; even the 'wars'!; but practically all of them unnecessary) - they all just had to be, it's all merely part of the unfolding of the historical process. The ONLY issue is to ***resolve*** the difficulties we confront. How to do that? These fine slogans will not do that for you (whether you consider them literally or as metaphors). Check out the aid to problem solving and decision making pointed to earlier for an approach that will help.
3. The fundamental fact (/difficulty) we need to work with is that a majority of students come out of school fearing/loathing math. This is not natural, and you may be convinced if you look at the tots in a **genuine** (there are very few such) Montessori school: they LOVE math! Of course, that doesn't continue very long, as they have soon to 'get into the rut' to pass exams, go to college, get jobs, and so on. I claim that, though Montessori has not developed much beyond the tiny tot level (say up to age 5 or 6), it is incumbent on us to learn how to do that> HOW TO ENSURE THAT STUDENTS, WHEN THEY LEAVE SCHOOL, STILL ENJOY THE WONDER AND BEAUTY OF MATH THAT THEY HAD WHEN THEY WERE LITTLE CHILDREN? This is the issue that neither the 'inquiry'/constructivist group nor the 'traditional group' have yet come to terms with.
4. I'm not a teacher, but I've been successful with helping just one student over his fear/loathing of math: he was a freshman college student who, never having done even decently in math right through his school career, was now doing even worse in college; he came to me after I gave a talk at a Rotary Club with a 'challenge' whether my aid to problem solving and decision making could help him out. He took up the Mission "To understand all topics of my math syllabus thoroughly, and THEREBY to improve, very significantly, my results in my math exams, tests, quizzes". And he succeeded too, through applying the 'OPMS' to his Mission. ['OPMS' stands for 'One Page Management System', the integrative tool I've invented, based on the seminal contribution to 'systems sciene'0 from the late John N. Warfield. In other posts (and in the documents attached with these messages), I have provided background about Warfield and also about 'systems']. In regard to that particular student and his math, what is remarkable is that I gave him NO MATH TUITION AT ALL! (Whatever math help he needed he got from his college teachers and, probably more importantly, from his peers who were good at math. This he did because there were elements in his models that told him to do that - and when he questioned the model (made from his own ideas) it told him just how to go about it!)
That's not a big deal at all, I agree, just ONE student - but I claim it can be done consistently, with the great majority of students, so that most of our students finish school without having developed this fear/loathing of math! That's only my claim; I have no proof of it. (I'm waiting for a teacher or teachers with an adequate sense of questioning and adventure to take up such a project; meanwhile, I have plenty of projects of my own, as the ''List of Missions' attached herewith will tell you). However, this specific 'student math' case is briefly discussed in the PowerPoint attachment herewith, "Some Missions of Interest". The point I want to raise is: when I wrote about this case several years ago, our esteemed interlocutors here, whom you defend, greeted it with scorn and contumely.
4. All of the above has an underlying context which I shall now describe. As you would understand if you look at the documentation with the message pointed to above, and at the attachment herewith, my claim is the following: most of the issues that hugely trouble us today - individual, organizational, AND societal - can be much, MUCH more effectively tackled than we are generally managing to do using conventional methods. I claim that this is mainly because we fail to integrate available ideas effectively - ideas that are actually available in plenty. The tool I recommend is designed to help us effectively use all our good ideas, strengthen or throw away our weak or bad ideas.
I agree with much of what you say below, WITH THE PROVISO THAT WHAT WE ALL NEED TO DO IS TO LEARN TO RESOLVE OUR ISSUES MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN WE ARE DOING NOW.
We need to start looking at issues in a different way from our customary and we have to learn to handle them effectively (which we are not doing at all today). This is the case not just in math, but in practically every field, every discipline, every aspect of our lives. We need to start making changes pdq - and what I propose is a practical way to do just that.
> my wife was given handouts stating this from her
> National University (a
> certification mill) classes to get her credential.
> Personally, I'd never
> have gotten involved in the math wars or would have
> been forced to put
> my son in a private school, losing the 'free'
> education my property and
> state income taxes had already paid for had a choice
> of a traditional
> math curriculum been made available. Even with a
> classroom free Saxon
> books being available for a pilot, for the low price
> of testing the kids
> at the beginning, testing them at the end and making
> the results public,
> the idea of a choice was rejected by the
> Principal/Asst. Superintendent
> who exclaimed, "The NCTM Standards must be followed".
> To not agree was
> to *want* poor kids, girls, and minorities (real
> minorities, meaning the
> ones that aren't expected to do well and live up to
> expectations) to
> achieve less than white boys with good parents.
> As it turns out, there were other benefits of the
> he St.Sensible. No
> bullying, for example, the standards really were
> higher, and they were
> voluntarily using the SAT-9 tests for their own
> 'quality control' before
> the state schools were forced to use it. Only they'd
> give it at the
> beginning of the year to see where everyone was
> starting from instead of
> at the end of the academic year when the State
> thought the results would
> be better.
> etc etc indeed. A lazy way out.
> - -Greg
> > etc, etc.
> > GSC