Date: Nov 15, 2012 4:45 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: Safety Glasses in Algebra?

On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 1:11 PM, Dave L. Renfro <renfr1dl@cmich.edu> wrote:

> I haven't listened to the video and don't really have
> a comment about the teaching method (getting students
> engaged is good, assuming it's in a way that leads to
> appropriate learning), but I did want to complain about
> something I see way too often (and have complained about
> before), which is the tendency of advocates of "the latest
> new thing" to misrepresent the past. The first sentence of
> the article follows:
>
> ** When many of us were in school, math class was about
> ** word problems and memorization.
>
> Since when was math class about memorization?


An eloquent statement and I think very true.

Newcomers somewhat insult the past, give it short shrift, misrepresent
it, in a bid to stand out and seem special.

One might ask: how could one expect to do justice to the past in just
a short introduction?

That's a weak response.

On the other hand, I do believe, based on interviews with real adults,
that many get through the early math years with a great deal of
emphasis on memorization.

They memorize trig formulae, step by step ways of doing. They don't
derive on the fly. They remember.

If one is blessed with a fantastic memory, and some are (I empathize
with your own difficulties where memorizing languages is concerned),
there's a tendency to rely on that gift to whatever extent possible.

That Japanese sport I was reporting about awhile ago, of adding
multi-digit numbers in one's head, having seen them flash by, takes an
ability to visualize an abacus and work it quickly in the mind's eye.

http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=7917645

The brain processes these sums at photographic speeds, far exceeding
the ability of a key presser to key it in, i.e we have no way to
compete with these brains once you factor in the slowness of keying or
optical scanning (but then the evangelicals would stack the deck by
having the numbers "already be in memory" i.e. they don't see humans
as part of their infrastructure to begin with).

Anyway, to wrap it up: what's another way to contrast with the past?

I think inventing a mythological past, intentionally, is not
necessarily bad marketing.

"This is the horrible little village where they used to teach math and
now we have this wonderful way".

Keep going back to the horrible village to showcase how NOT to teach.
Mock the ineffective. Ridicule the ways you despise. But it can be a
cartoon.

You don't have to spit on some living breathing subculture who might
come after you in revenge.

On the other hand, if you mean to do satire or parody, you'll have
that opportunity.

Don't pick on the past, re-invent the past, make it a fairy tale.
Like Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss meets / collaborates with Martin Gardner -- now *that* would
be promising.

Lets start a petition at OnlyInHeaven.com to arrange a meetup
(currently under construction).

Kirby