Date: Nov 12, 2012 7:54 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: How teaching factors rather than multiplicand & multiplier<br> confuses kids!

On Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 3:42 PM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:

> On Nov 12, 2012, at 6:13 PM, kirby urner <> wrote:
> Most USA kids graduate high school not knowing about Unicode. Their ETS
> does not require it. They are borg. Resistence (for them) is futile.
> Most kids graduate high school not knowing anything, even what the ETS
> requires. If we had tracks for different things, then there would be plenty
> of time to teach algebra and some unicode. Students could get the "private
> school" experiences we see at schools like Phillips. What you see in public
> school isn't because they teach algebra, it is because they teach algebra
> to everyone, again, and again, and again, till they pass. It consumes them
> (the school). When I went to high school, I took one year of aeronautics.
> We built an airplane, well, 6 classes over 6 years built an airplane.
> Bob Hansen

But lets not feed the myth the private schools are always better.

As I was saying earlier, we have high schools in our district that
pioneered using Linux in diskless workstation mode when that became
feasible. Schools around the world would contact Riverdale for

LEP High (Leadership / Entrepreneurship Program) was another PPS doing open
source in its math class. I know because I helped agitate for the school
and then did a pilot demo class.

[ Later I took Anna Roys on a tour of said LEP High, with the principal,
Adam, when she was visiting from Alaska (this was some years ago, her
Thunderbird Academy just getting off the drawing boards). ]

There's no law saying public schools can't use the Litvin & Litvin text
used at Phillips Academy. Skylit Publishing offers it to the public at

Nor is there a law preventing Uncle Sam from opening experimental boarding
schools in the high desert of Oregon, where Unicode might be taught.

All such things are possible. Though per my stalled debate with Paul (he
gets the last word I guess), I'm not banking on Uncle Sam doing the right

Too many eggs in that basket would be foolhardy, based on the number of
eggs already smashed.

Paul and I agree that a big problem is the teachers' job description in
public schools. Unless they're doing "monkey see monkey do" in front of
the classroom, it's not considered serious teaching time.

"Unless you're in the room with my little junior providing day care, you're
not doing what my taxes are paying you to do" says the angry parent with

We can leave aside whether "taxes" really pay for mandatory spending and
just point out that

(a) parents don't have the freedom to parent when both are working (helps
to kill the "home school" concept) and

(b) teachers aren't really free to bone up and stay current if relegated to
the front lines without respite.

Take how college professors do it: a record of publishing in respected
journals brings honor to the school's name and currency to its diploma.
Colleges actually compete on the basis of curriculum.

There's that Great Books place (St. Johns) in Annapolis.

There are colleges that teach horse back riding and expect students to milk
the pigs every morning, do chores (I flirted with applying to one of these).

Public schools aren't expected to innovate or experiment.

They're supposed to take orders from the field marshals like Professor
Milgrim at Stanford. "USA teachers are too weak to be anything but text
book monkeys, they are not paid to be original or 'keep up in their
fields'" (paraphrase of what appears to be his position, and that of Herr

So then comes all this emphasis on text books. Teachers, like cigarette
casings, are but vehicles for "the product" (some wood pulp mishmash).

As a teacher, I definitely teach from source material which I didn't write
for the most part. But given it's all electronic, if a student complains
about an inconsistency or typo, we can run it by the author if necessary
and get it fixed, within hours sometimes. The course content steadily
improves. We thank students for their feedback, encourage it.

It's frustrating for authors to see mistakes go out under their name. They
make do with "errata" that may only go in the teacher's guide.

Students hit these errors and maybe don't say anything. Their
comprehension suffers. Isn't the text book supposed to be an authority?

The slowness of print media, the 5-15 year life cycle for text book
editions, is just dinosaur plodding by today's standards and those school
districts insisting on sticking with dino-slow print are quickly fading
from the scene as Dickensian dead ends, left behind and ready for garbage

There are some schools you just don't want on your resume if you're a
serious teacher.

This may mean recruiting from the Philippines becomes more difficult, as
other English-speaking nations pull even further ahead of the US in terms
of what they offer teachers as a job description.

Why work as a USA wage slave when New Zealand gives you many hours a week
to design curriculum with your peers? Nations that take education more
seriously are more satisfying to careerists with professional pride.