Date: Nov 10, 2012 2:19 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: How teaching factors rather than multiplicand & multiplier<br> confuses kids!

On Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 8:53 AM, Robert Hansen <bob@rsccore.com> wrote:

> The biggest problem, and Clyde's problem as well, is that the vast majority
> of teachers do not have longitudinal experience. They don't know how this
> process works because they have never seen the whole process work. They do
> not teach mathematics to a student or a class of students for six straight
> years, they are only responsible for one of those six years. This is
> something I would address first. If teachers had more longitudinal
> experience they would understand the progression. Can you imagine the effect
> this would have on a teacher's experience?
>
> Bob Hansen


This sounds too linear, as if all math topics were on this timeline in
a sequence and the job is to hit them in the right order, of
increasing sophistication.

In actual fact, it's more like a network of multiple highways and
byways. Fragments of group theory fit easily in Algebra 1 and make
both better, but because Group Theory as a whole is quite
sophisticated it gets thrown out until after Calculus. Permutations
get left out as objects in group theory, despite all the free computer
languages crying out to be sampled. Junior is saddled with the same
linear sequence is grandparents had. Is that a good thing? By
definition?

A severe reordering of the sequence, to where Carmichael numbers and
Fermat's Little Theorem came in grade school, with Euler's Method for
the GCD, would not be "harder" or "unrealistically demanding". It'd
be as easy peasy as before. The idea that adding some group theory
spice to the mix is somehow for the 2% elite high achievers is just
stereotyping and typecasting.

Remember how New Math, when taught right, was not hard at all.
Intersection and union, Venn diagrams, set operations, a trickle of
propositional calculus, truth tables, boolean algebra... this was all
very topical and, done right, was a boost. I use these concepts daily
in my work. New Math was just the ticket for me, plus I had some old
frashioned Brit arithmetic. Here's the mnemonic the Brits taught us:
"a red indian thought he might eat tobacco in church" (arithmetic), to
which my rejoinder is sure, of course, as tobacco was a holy smoke,
not commercial, not Camels.

Anyway, with summer camp and scouting and such institutions, we can
work around the fringes, the periphery, with these alternative
sequences. You've probably hear of Math Circles. That kind of thing:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/3391860773/ (photo of book
cover, Pycon 2009 sequence)

The image we want to discard is you're some kind of Johnny Neutron to
wanna Make: stuff with us and learn some group theory along with your
Algebra. It's more geek and more girl. Bronies? Getting closer
maybe. Not saying you can't learn to shoot (or ride a horse) -- the
more usual summer camp activities.

Computers and bandwidth.

Maybe these should be winter camps instead, or instead of school? Or
are they schools already? Getting accredited is less important than
having sponsors who want to hire our grads. We can work on
accreditation as time permits.

Kirby