Date: Oct 23, 2012 11:38 AM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: Speachless In New York (or, another OMG moment)
On Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 3:35 AM, Robert Hansen <email@example.com> wrote:
> On Oct 22, 2012, at 11:52 PM, kirby urner <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Yes, I appear to stray off topic
> I would have characterized it as running at the speed of light off topic.:)
> Bob Hansen
But you see for me it's quite ON topic as my proposed techie-vocational
curriculum, proposed for non-calculus heads as well as for those wishing
traditional analog math (continuity etc.), includes SQL. Venn Diagrams,
boolean algebra, SQL... a natural progression. We'll store polyhedron data
in relational tables once we get there, perhaps using Sqlite. All free
software if we like, not talking billions for Oracle.
So? Well, I'm also into sharing Lore (stories, human interest features)
not just techie skills.
What I've said about 1900s K-12 math quite a lot is its ahistoric, doesn't
believe in sharing timelines, is short on bios, applications (Ralph Abraham
of UCSC has shared this same criticism -- was in a worshop with him at our
Oregon Math Summit some years ago).
Parabolas but no ballistics or dish receivers. Fractions but no Egyptian
style fractions. And no talk about how mastery of the principles enables
more life supportive advantages with less need for physical materials.
Better mathematics and physics has meant more "ephemeralization" (Toynbee:
"etherialization") meaning more and more functionality from fewer material
resources. Recent example: the smartphone, a GPS device, camera, computer,
and telecommunications device.
You need the perspective of history to see "more with less" as a long term
SQL + a commitment to teaching Lore = delving in to the Nazi Germany
chapter right in the middle of STEM, looking at the machinery of the
holocaust, the importance of early tabulation machines.
What check box schemas did they use, what was the database like?
We look at US census data at the same time, at the questions. We're not
afraid to ask about "race" (what is it?): what is the history of that
concept and to what degree does it anticipate the findings of genetic
We now know there's no "racial substance" any more than "blue blood"
flowing in the veins of wealthy landowners. When two individuals have
children, it's not like there's something "racial" is contributed 50-50, as
if there were some "race gene". In the old days, they thought some
"essence" was getting divided up, like "1/32nd black" was imagined to mean
something in physical/genetic terms. But it's just pseudo-scientific
nonsense (the Nazis were as deluded as the other white supremacists). Our
science museum (OMSI) has an exhibit about that going on.
So in my curriculum, the topic of SQL is a chance to get dark and to really
expose students to "man's inhumanity to man". I'm not saying we'll watch
all 15 hours of Shoah, but it might be listed as background viewing for
The topic of Unicode is when we get happy again (they're connected in that
today's SQL engines support the Unicode codecs). Here 'Small World After
All' and "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" are more apropos. This is when
we celebrate the multi-culturalism the Education Yakuza consider a
positive. We're happy about our China Town, our Old Town in Portland. Our
business with Asia is growing by leaps and bounds, thanks in part to that
Intel plant in Ho Chi Minh city.
Remember, STEM mathematics has a lot of GPS / GIS in it, is taking us back
to Geography / Geodesy big time. With Google Earth, Google Mars, Google
Moon, we're really into exploring spherical surfaces with spherical trig,
lat / long, whatever hexapent grids (or "global matrix" some call those).
Geography + Geometry is a unifying heuristic. It's a much more worldly
math that you'd see in those 1900s textbooks that had been drained of all
history, but for a few quaint sidebars maybe.
In the 21st century, it'll be timelines galore. We're not just interested
in Descartes for the XYZ coordinate system, we're interested in Descartes
as a world line in history. He traveled a lot, ending up in Sweden, a
chief counselor to the Queen. My / our students are more likely to know
(first 57 minutes of a background lecture, International Room, Hyatt
Regency, O'Hare Area, Chicago, 2009) - at around 9 mins is
where I start talking about the importance of Lore (storytelling)