Date: Jan 11, 2013 9:57 AM
Author: Robert Hansen
Subject: Re: Update about "The community of mathematics educators: Join in defending fun

On Jan 10, 2013, at 9:20 PM, Michael Paul Goldenberg <> wrote:

> Robert, I could offer a great deal of commentary on what you're immune to, but respect for the moderator and list rules stays my hand.

Thank you for saying that, it means my immunity system is healthy and wise.

> Now, if the focus of the Bishop/Milgram vendetta against Boaler was the mathematical content - that is to say, the accuracy from a mathematical perspective - of what was being taught, well, that might be another matter. But it isn't. No one is asserting that there were mathematical errors or untruths being taught, as far as I recall. Rather, this was the usual anti-progressive hate-fest that centers on pedagogy and a basic attitude towards the teaching and learning of mathematics. For Bishop, Milgram, and their allies, this is about no pain, no gain; about making the teacher the entire center of the classroom, who is all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful, and who, through (almost invariably) his good graces, the powerless students will be allowed to glimpse revealed mathematical truth.

That was actually only one focus. The focus I was referring to was that she reported success, in advanced classes, beyond even the other two schools, yet when Milgram et al ascertained the schools and obtained the CST, SAT and AP test scores, this was clearly not indicated. Seriously, very few of the pages, if any of the pages, in the Milgram paper were devoted to a critique of alternate methods. They were devoted to what I just said and the bad math problems. I was more interested in the discrepancy between Boaler's statements of success and CST, SAT and AP test scores.

Milgram et al did not harp on alternative pedagogy in that paper. It was not a paper about what Milgram et al think is proper pedagogy. Yet this is what you want to talk about. I want to talk about why Boaler's statements didn't match reality. This should also be of interest to you because this is why people do not trust educational research. This is why even the good little ideas won't make it into mainstream pedagogy, let alone the grandiose schemes of social justice.

> For the rest of the population, who isn't particularly successful with such sparse and severe conditions, there are other ways through the woods than one. Your response, I know, is that anything that isn't the Holy Writ of the Priesthood is "not mathematics." Well, super for you, Robert. You keep thinking that. But do the rest of population a huge favor: back off, go serve the people who want your services, and stop whining so much. Stop acting like the dog in the manger who, in this case, can't teach these other kids effectively, and rather than let someone else do so, insist that if YOU can't reach them, no one can. Quit trying to ensure that there is but one path, and you are the determiner of what that path is.

Geez, I am hurt. After all the years and you get me so wrong.

1. K-12 mathematics is well defined. Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, precalc, calculus, and any tidbits I missed.
2. I don't care how you get there as long as you get THERE and not some other place that doesn't even look like THERE.

> Because there is nothing you can do to stop all the other projects and approaches, as Kirby demonstrates daily. He neither needs nor awaits your imprimatur, Robert, and is happily doing much good with those who appear very interested in his services and products (so to speak). I am happily teaching kids, coaching inner city math teachers, and doing much good with those who appear very interested in my services and products. Please feel free to do the same. Or not. Do something creative. Or not. But trying to pollute everyone else's waters is a losing proposition for all concerned, and no reasonable person is going to sit quietly and let you do so.

I am doing something creative. I am intensely focused. Not withstanding those that I directly coach or advise, my presence on forums is affecting many. I would offer private communications, but I don't have to. That it brought you here all the way back from the math-teach grave to tell me to my face to STOP, says enough. What I am not doing is finding out where Kirby posts or lives just to tell him I hate him. Or finding out where you post or live just to tell you I hate you. Or finding out where GS posts or lives just to tell him I hate him. For two reasons, one, I don't even think of them (that includes you) unless we are in a dialog, and two, what a waste of time that would be.

> So, once again, you are more than free to pursue whatever courses of action you like, though I do encourage you to think positively, if you can. But telling Jo Boaler what she SHOULD say, or me what I SHOULD sign, or any of your many other amusing but futile ideas is a waste of time, effort, and space. It will impact precisely no one but yourself.

I wasn't telling anyone to do anything, it was an example of what I was hoping to receive. I take it from your tone here that I won't be receiving it.:(

> As for what passes for discourse here, do you seriously suggest that ANY person coming to this list for the first time, with no major preconceptions and no dogs in any fights, would spend more than a week without noticing how narrow and repetitive the conversations are?

GS has also said the same thing you just did, about this list being repetitive and narrow. While it does have it's share of repetition (all lists do) I don't find it narrow. I have increased my expertise immensely, my reflexes have grown pristine, and my writing has improved. I think when people go to a forum looking for one thing only, and they don't get it, then the forum looks narrow. But that is because their mind was narrow to begin with. The whole world probably looks narrow to them.

Bob Hansen