Date: Feb 1, 2013 4:45 PM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: Rotten to the Core: War on Academic Standards
Kirby Urner posted Feb 1, 2013 11:54 PM (GSC's resmarks interspersed):
> On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 10:37 PM, GS Chandy
> <email@example.com> wrote:
> > I don't quite know who "the governors" might be,
> unless you mean our
> > Moderators. I observe you've not responded to my
> exclamation: "What, in
> > your opinion, was the opinion I might have
> expressed by which I was
> > "wasting their time"! - which really was intended
> as a question.
> No, I mean the CCSS process is being coordinated by
> Governors in the
> various states.
> Quoting from some random web page: "Today, the
> National Governors
> Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center)
> and the Council of Chief
> State School Officers (CCSSO) released a set of
> state-led education
> standards, the Common Core State Standards, at
> Peachtree Ridge High School
> in Suwanee, GA"
> All these acronyms have a kind of militaristic /
> bureaucratic flavor don't
> they. Feels like Washington DC, kinda slimy. But
> that's OK. We start
> building our immune systems early and don't cave to
> authorities just
> because they use acronym-infested language. So do
> computer geeks, even
> more than they do.
OK. Got that. But you haven't yet explained "What, in
your opinion, was the opinion I might have expressed by which I was 'wasting their time'"? See below.
> > Yes - this is indeed the 'kind of thing we do'.
> Alas all debates here do
> > turn out to be (ineffective) "social discussions" -
> they may as well be tea
> > parties or coffee breaks; in fact, we're on a
> perpetual 'coffee break' I
> > find.
> There's no need to reach agreement for discussions to
> be effective.
I did NOT claim that we have to reach 'agreement'! That is not at all what I meant by "effective discussion".
I DO claim that actions taken in (or for) a group should be taken after a reasonable 'consensus' is arrived at. Such a consensus can be arrived at only after all in the group have a reasonable understanding of how actions performed might "CONTRIBUTE TO" (or "HINDER") desired goals. That consensus could take quite a while to develop formally. Of course, people who have already worked together in teams do have a good part of this consensus already worked out in practice (though informally). I find that it's a good thing to do it at least to some extent, formally, to understand clearly each other's ideas of "CONTRIBUTIONS", etc.
> agreement, sure, among allies, but not universal
> agreement across the
> board. We respect diversity and abhor mono-culture
> on principle, as
> biologically unwise. Argument is natural.
Of course. No question at all on that. However, 'consensus' in my sense does NOT mean "agreement" in your sense.
> I want to learn what the schools of thought are, the
> camps. I look for
> more of a map of the factions. I'm not asking them
> to all come to some
> uber-agreement or truce. Let them stay clear about
> their differences.
> As far as I'm concerned, the so-called "math wars" is
> a permanent fixture
> of a healthy society, as there is always a need to
> let these camps "duke it
> out" (metaphysically / psychologically, not with
> outward weapons, which is
> immature and not good role modeling for children).
Well, the underlying issue might be: 'good role modeling for children'. By and large, we have demonstrated ourselves to be utterly terrible role models. Hence the need for 'consensus relating to action on complex issues' (in the way I mean it - which is not 'agreement'!)
> > The first thing students should learn is there's
> > of disagreement about what's being taught, which
> > an excuse to stop learning or not learn
> > (people have a natural hunger to learn in my
> > It's not just 'people' (by which term I presume you
> mean adults).
> > That natural 'hunger to learn' actually starts in
> us when we're infants,
> > even as soon as we are born into the world. See,
> for instance, "How a
> > Child Learns", attached herewith.*
> No, by "people" I mean "people", not just adults.
> Younger people may have a stronger appetite to learn,
> because as people
> grow older they may have their natural appetites beat
> out of them, e.g. by
> schools, which often work overtime to depress
> curiosity e.g. by hampering
> access to the Internet with filthy malware and
> sending kids to the
> principal if they're caught reading subversive
> literature in class (e.g.
> MAD Magazine).
See attachment (in an earlier message) "How a Child Learns".
> What, in your opinion, would be the benefit to
> students to hear views like
> > "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!" (and other such
> manifestations as we see
> > here all too often)??
> It's not for me to pre-judge what views they should
> hear or to calculate
> the benefits.
Well, yes, on second thoughts, I would urge them to listen to "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!" - and then I'd also poke my not-so-innocent jabs at that kind of thought.
> I do not treasure either my or your opinions on this
> matter. I consider
> our opinions on "how they might benefit" entirely
> irrelevant in this case.
> What I want for them to have is full access to the
> debates, starting early.
Check out the OPMS process. It insists that all stakeholders have full access to debates, and full freedom to express all opinions.
> They should know that many people think they're being
> victimized by
> horrendously malpracticing institutions that should
> have been reformed or
> shut down years ago.
Well, yes: most extant institutions SHOULD have been reformed years ago. Better late (i.e., now) than never.
>That will get them thinking
> critically, asking
> important questions such as "am I wasting my life?"
> I also encourage the spreading of debating skills,
> though not necessarily
> "spreading" which is the technique of speaking really
> quickly in Cross-X.
> That's a more specialized sport. Lincoln-Douglas is
> a better example of
> what I encourage.
I don't know what "Cross-X" is. I don't know what Lincoln Douglas might have spoken.
> Resolved: high schools should teach more computer
> programming in
> mathematics classes. Debate.
Resolved: Schools should teach how effective debate should be conducted. (The conventional debate is usually highly ineffective, from the lowest to the highest, e.g. Supreme Court, Parliament, etc). "Effective" means that something can be consensually understaken after the debate. In the conventional debate, this rarely happens.
> Of course. As you seem to have some such good ideas
> as expressed above,
> > why don't you get down and do precisely that? The
> attachments to the
> > message noted above describes tools that could
> help, quite significantly.
> I already do all this myself. I don't regard myself
> as the core problem,
> though I certainly could improve my effectiveness in
> many ways.
We can ALL improve our effectiveness, in a great many ways, ALWAYS! Simply construct a structure "To improve my personal effectiveness at what I do" - then follow the guidelines that gives you. Examples have been provided. But do remember that actually constructing and developing (for practical use) a model such as this is quite different from reading about it. See the models at the .ppt presentation "Some Models of Interest" - remembering that "doing" is quite a bit different.
> Agreed. When I say/write "the USA" (or "India", for
> that matter) I ALWAYS
> > mean the 'integration' of all the needs, desires,
> wishes, aims of its
> > individual people and variety of groups therein.
> THAT'S my "aggregate"!
> How does one really "ALWAYS mean" any particular
> thing when writing? Is it
> up to you what words mean?
To a fair extent, yes, it IS up to me. I start with the dictionary definition and then, sometimes (quite often, as a matter of fact), go somewhat further. This is something you would understand when you construct your own models, representing your own reality. Thus, when I say, "the USA" or "India", I do indeed mean something more than what may be commonly understood by that. I mean the *integration* of all the intents and desires of the inhabitants. NOT just the people and their possessions.
> We have this nation-state based way of thinking that
> we're taught in
I do NOT have that "nation-state based way" thinking of "India" at all! (Or of the "USA" for that matter).
Sorry, it's NOT effective. (At least, it's not effective in the way I mean *effective* - which is via a *realisation* of the desires and the needs of people in it.
>However we should also
> impart less
> nationalistic ways of thinking.
>I bring a world map
> into classrooms that
> shows no nations and I explain to kids that it's more
> accurate than most
> maps they'll see, both mathematically and
> politically. That's debatable of
> course, and debate is what I encourage.
Well, I do not much go into classrooms, but I could buy into that 'non-nationalistic way' of seeing nations and their maps.
> Here's a picture of said map in a local high school
> (I'm well known around
> Portland and have easy access to the schools):
I can't see photos clearly or videos at all on my machine - but I think I know what you mean. Later, I shall look at the picture on a friend's machine.
> Here I am with the same map lecturing to a bunch of
> IEEE people
> (electronics types) at Portland Center Stage on
> election night, 2008:
> Many adults are ignorant about this map because their
> schools failed them.
> Portland has better public schools than most cities,
> because of people like
> me (I am not alone, but part of a larger conspiracy
> Of course. So how do we train our own minds to
> avoid/ escape the inbuilt
> > pathologies of each/all of our languages? I
> suggest we need to take a
> > couple of simple steps in understanding what
> precisely we want to do when
> > we communicate.
> It takes a lot of training for sure. Anthropologists
> tend to do it, and
> psychologists (the deeper ones). Mathematicians
> escape into their
> alternative language games but often at the cost of
> letting their native
> language over-dominate their non-mathematical
> thinking. They lack
> anti-bodies. Look at Frege, the great logician, who
> fell victim to the
> antisemitism of his day.
OK to much of what you state above. I just think of the needed training as:
Enable the individual to understand him- /her-self. Just ask him or her what may may his or her Mission be and then demonstrate some simple tools to work that out - in exactly as much detail/depth that the person might desire/ need to do it. Such an exercise tells you a fair bit of just who that individual is, what he/she is capable of (assuming he/she shows you the models made - which I never ask to see, but I do look at these models if they're presented to me, provide suggestions if requested).
> > Innumeracy is a form of illiteracy.
> > I agree. But it IS often acceptable to boast of
> being 'innumerate'! But
> > it is no longer (since the past 50 years or so, I'd
> believe) to boast of
> > being 'illiterate'. The issue is somewhat deeper
> than you make it out to
> > be.
> I can't think of anyone I know personally who boasts
> of innumeracy.
You've never heard anyone claim: "I'm terrible at math"???
Well, maybe he/she won't "boast" about it - but a great many DO say it (in India for sure; in the USA also, I believe). OK, I see your following sentence.
> they're apologetic and secretive about it, like other
> illiterate people are.
Well, I guess society has progressed to the extent that they now feel they need to be secretive about it where a couple of decades ago they might have said it with a smirk.
>I don't believe in forcing people into the
> closet because of their
> handicaps. Unless people are open about their needs,
> its hard to help them.
It really isn't the individual's 'fault'. It's the weakness of our whole system. Remember Churchill: "First, we shape our houses; then our houses shape us" (words to this effect). Substitute "systems" for "houses" and you have something pretty well applicable right today.
> I do think there's too much anti-adult bias out
> there. It's always how to
> teach kids this and how to teach kids that, One
> Laptop per Child etc., as
> if adults don't matter. What's the English word for
> bigotry against
> adults, something-phobia? Is there such a word?
> English has so many blind
> spots, I'd not be surprised if this were one of them.
Well, definitely adults are at least as much in need of learning as children are - probably more. Children are generally much more 'open' to learning; adults are generally closed off, to a great extent.
> I go around using the word "andragogy" because I want
> to distinguish it
> from "pedagogy". People are always asking me how I
> would teach computer
> programming to six year olds, because they've been
> brainwashed into
> thinking the "reform" means "doing things with little
> kids". I'd rather
> work with their teachers and others in that age
> Lets teach computer programming to retired folks, to
> people in "nursing
> homes" (terrible Anglo concept / institution).
> Grandparents work with
> children (or did, in not-broken societies). Lets
> have the retired folks
> teach the newcomers and let the busy middle aged
> pursue their careers (an
> ancient pattern -- partly why we have households with
> no parents at home
> and paid day care (if you added grandparents to this
> picture it wouldn't be
> so broken)).
Why do we ever force people to 'retire'? Why cannot we develop a true 'learning society'? I claim it can be done - and, indeed, it MUST be done, if we want to escape the 'abyss' looming just ahead.
> > Innumerate people are only
> > > quasi-literate. Most Americans are only
> > > quasi-literate, just as most are
> > > malnourished (seriously overweight).
> > >
> > Indeed. Likewise in India. But:
> > >
> > > That's just the way it is.
> > >
> > This is where we SERIOUSLY differ!!! I claim there
> are specific and
> > definite things we can do to change "the way things
> are". Some of these
> > changes may take generations to come about.
> However, the basic fact is
> > clear: It is no longer acceptable, NOW, to boast
> of being "illiterate"!
> > (It was acceptable [here in India at least], just a
> few decades ago, to my
> > very clear memory).
> > >
> Working for change means does not mean living in
> denial about how things are right now.
What, in your opinion, am/was I in 'denial' about?? I believe you are mistaken, but am willing to hear what you have to say in support of your implication.
> This rush to focus on children is a kind of mental
> giving up. You're
> saying it's too late for the adults so we will just
> focus on their
This is NOT what I have EVER said (or implied)!!! It IS more difficult for the adults "to learn" - but it is rarely (if ever) too late (unless they have managed to hermetically seal their minds, which is relatively rare).
>This reflex is partly left over from
> British Empire / Anglo
> Dominance days, when the Anglos would round up the
> kids of a nation's
> tribe, say Warm Springs here in Oregon, and hold them
> in boarding schools,
> where they could be taught Anglo patterns of thought.
> This was an
> effective way to destroy native languages and
> civilizations. The Anglos
> are nothing if not destructive. Of course they call
> it "saving" people
> (snicker). 
> > It's a complicated history I'm sure.
> > It is MUCH less 'complicated' than you would make
> it out to be. It was,
> > earlier, a lack of needed tools. Then Warfield
> initiated our understanding
> > of "CONTRIBUTION" through the modeling tools he
> > As I understand, in another instance, it took a
> couple of generations for
> > people to shift over from 'Roman numeral
> arithmetic' to 'placeholder
> > arithmetic'. But it did happen - and it is
> placeholder arithmetic in even
> > the most backward of countries!
> As I understand it, the spread of placeholder
> arithmetic was actively
> countered by the Church in the Middle Ages, which
> didn't want numeracy
> spreading among the masses, literacy either if they
> could help it.
> Everyone was supposed to let Mother Church do their
> taxes and allocate
> resources. Their power lay in the ignorance of the
> laity. Doing "cyphers"
> (0-based placeholder arithmetic) was a punishable
Indeed. But it happened: over time, placeholder arithmetic spread all over. Just as (I claim) 'structural graphics' are bound to spread. (And 'prose + structural graphics' [p+sg] are bound to take over the world of thought and debate).
> The Church was very jealous of its power. Mercator,
> who did great world
> maps, was thrown in jail by the Inquisition for
> awhile, not just Galileo,
> because he was more advanced than the people in Rome
> (the old Washington
> DC). I don't know if the Vatican has officially
> apologized for its sins in
> great detail -- maybe because it's too busy mounting
> up new ones to
> apologize for its older ones (WDC similar).
Indeed. ALL power centres are jealous of their power. Today no less than at the time of the Inquisition.
> There's a lot about school that's like the Church in
> wanting to have
> conformist adults as the outcome, not "think for
> yourself" adults. Schools
> in the US strike a fine balance between training
> people to live in a
> pluralistic democracy and training them to obey
> authority figures.
Well, why not start the 'learning society' at the school level? If the school does not prove receptive, start at the individual level. Some individuals will not be receptive. OK. But some will be. And that should be sufficient.
> The strongest authority is a "peer group" in terms of
> setting norms of
> behavior. In some schools, it's not really cool to
> study. The teachers
> don't. They just recite from textbooks. 
Well, in each school, the respective teachers/ students would work out their specific strategies. Or they won't. It really is up to them.
> Likewise to change from accepting 'illiteracy' - this
> change has already
> > occurred in society practically everywhere in the
> > Also, quite similarly, the shift from accepting
> 'pure prose' as being the
> > ONLY way to discuss complex issues - to a stage
> where people realize that
> > we do need something more than that 'pure prose' to
> discuss and arrive at
> > an effective understanding of the complex issues we
> do need to deal with
> > all the time.
> TV / Youtube etc.
> http://youtu.be/y2Nz2X0AEXw (not just prose --
> simultaneous drawing)
> Agreed. So why not actually work out (to a more
> specific extent than I've
> > seen you do here) your ideas about "polyhedra and
> thinkers" that I've seen
> > you put forward at these interactions of ours. I
> believe you would find
> > the graphical 'structure-conceptual' tools of
> Interpretive Structural
> > Modeling' (ISM) and Field Representation (FR)
> Method to be useful tools.
> > It'll take some doing to "do the demo" - but you
> have to be the person to
> > do it.
> I'd say "to a more specific extent" doesn't mean much
> to me. I am very
> specific in what I do.
> My guess is you haven't had time or access to really
> know what I've been up
True enough - I have seen only a little of what you've been up to: I've read a couple of your blogs, etc. Sometimes they're excellent. It's quite a bit, I believe. But you have never yet tried the OPMS.
>That shouldn't matter though, as I agree my
> effectiveness may always
> be increased.
Well, check out the idea of constructing a structure "To improve my personal effectiveness at what I do".
It's extremely useful, IF persisted with. I.e., not just constructing one today and then forgetting about it after that. But constructing one such today, then developing it, on a continuing basis.
> Since I'm a Quaker plugged into Quaker networks, I
> have some clout (weight)
> in that respect. The intellectual currents you
> should tune in are American
> Transcendentalism ala Dial Magazine and later Dial
> Press (see Wikipedia)
> and esoteric philosophy ala Robert Anton Wilson etc.,
> which some call "new
> age" or "Aquarian" (I tend to avoid those terms, but
> I understand the
> Now, most of India seems to be convinced that putting
> those 5 1/2 men to
> > death will cure the Indian male's need to
> demonstrate his power over women
> > who are (very slowly) liberating themselves from
> the patriarchal mindset
> > that has enslaved their minds and bodies for
> generations. Even many women
> > are calling for the death penalty to be applied!
> No such "power over women" is ever demonstrated in
> rape. It's a full
> disclosure of powerlessness and needing to resort to
> brute force.
This is true enough, in reality. But, in their imaginations, they ARE showing their power. That is why they rape. Sexual desire has, I believe, very little to do with it: it's all a very ugly demonstration of power in its crudest, most vicious form.
> are unpowerful and not fully mature humans
But they imagine their act is giving them power over the woman! At least, that's the way I read them. They're entirely mistaken, of course. But it is their mistaken thinking that rules their world.
> Indian males are clearly inferior to Indian females,
> I think that's obvious
> to anyone. Indian males tend to be weak spoiled brat
> types in my
> experience, over-protected and over-full of
> themselves. Indian women are
> far more powerful. The men are just goofy (with some
I agree entirely. We Indian men are indeed a pretty poor sort, by and large. I get plenty of flak when I come out with these opinions, of course.
> Of course I'm just indulging in stereotypes for the
> moment, exposing the
> preposterousness of over-generalization.
> The US is full of insecure cowardly moronic males
> too, many of them frat
> house football players or military dweebs hoping to
> get away with their
> cowardly brute force antics overseas (where their
> commanders give them
> permission to behave in ways that are oh so
> criminalized at home -- talk
> about hypocrisy!).
> > Inquiry Questions:
> > >
> > > 1. When you extend to a new number systems (e.g.,
> > > g., from integers to rational
> > > numbers and from rational numbers to real
> > > eal numbers), what properties apply
> > > to the extended number system?
> > >
> > > 2. Are there more complex numbers than real
> > > eal numbers?
> > >
> > > 3. What is a number system?
> > >
> > > 4. Why are complex numbers important?
> > >
> > Excellent! Why not work to put such ideas into the
> 'regular curricula'?
> > What would be needed to accomplish that? Who to
> discuss matters with?
> > HOW to do this discussion??? Etc, etc.
> These are not especially good questions.
> Better: are time accounting systems number systems?
> I would say yes, and
> mathematics gives up way too soon when it comes to
> teaching about time
> accounting, just like it gives up on latitude /
> longitude in this day of
> GIS / GPS. Geography dies away and Geometry is cut
> loose to NOT be about
> "Earth measure" (everything is landlubber "planes").
> Time accounting is a mixed base number system no
> less, a doorway to bases.
> Is "base 2" a number system as distinct from "base
> 10"? I don't think
> there's a right answer to that as these terms are
> only pseudo-defined. 
> > > Those questions look pretty desultory and
> > > but that's what standards
> > > are like.
> > >
> > Nope: you are wrong. Approached *properly*, these
> are very real questions
> > indeed - and they could lead to quite profound
> investigations into the
> > field (of "'learning' and 'teaching' math" - by a
> person who is qualified
> > to do - capable of doing - such investigations).
> Nope, these are silly "busy work" questions thrown
> together by
> unimaginative worker-bees who want to sound educated
> in their own ears.
> Lets pay them and then ignore them while we get on
> with more serious STEM
1. "What, in your opinion, are the THINGS TO DO to ensure the more serious STEM work is done and put effectively in place?"
2. "What, in your opinion, are the THINGS TO DO to ensure an effective public school system is put in place in the USA? (/some part of the USA)
> > Well - the underlying idea is to create the right
> math/ geometry
> > textbooks. Nowadays, with computer software and
> internet, it should be
> > possible to do. (But I do approve of Dom Rosa's
> dislike of 'door-stoppers'
> > serving as learning tools for kids).
> > >
> Textbooks waste trees.
Agreed. So: "What, in your opinion, are the THINGS TO DO to minimise (if not eliminate) this wastage of trees for the textbooks needed?"
And: Dom Rosa's hatred of 'doorstopper books' is seen to be even more sound - it also saves trees!!
> Not that screens don't come with their own waste
> stream. We study that
> and address it. We recycle components. We have Free
> Geek type outfits
> etc. The precious metals get recovered. Plus the
> amount of resources in
> each device continues to drop.
Of course. And it all happens so much faster and more effectively if appropriate trigger questions are asked (AND the appropriate modeling is done, systematically).
SEE MORE, LATER:
>  the conspiracy to which I refer is mentioned
> under GRUNCH in Robert
> Anton Wilson's encyclopedia of conspiracies
> "Everything is Under Control".
> Haim is familiar with it, for using "gander" instead
> of "gaggle" (of geese)
> and for confusing "pedagogue" (teacher-slave) and
> "pedant" (foot soldier),
> which come from different "peda"s in his view (he
> makes a good case).
> photostream (picture
> of book cover)
>  Yes, I had a grandparent in my household all
> during the time my
> youngest was growing up, so yes, I walk my talk in
> this respect (the
> grandparent doesn't code, but she knows HTML and
>  The tribal museum on the Warm Springs
> reservation remembers those
> days. In general, the natives have been terribly
> oppressed by the
> Anglo-speaking majority. It took several generations
> to learn enough
> English to fight back in a way English recognize, by
> using "the law". Even
> so, it's an uphill battle. How to overturn
> "monogamy" as the only legal
> way for families to bond? What a terrible imposition
> of an alien way of
> life that was. Thank God that's all behind us now.
>  I went to a school in Florida where only one of
> the teachers appeared
> to study at all. The others were, frankly speaking,
> morons. I felt sorry
> for my peers and understand why Florida is such a
> horribly backward state.
> Both my late wife and one of my current peers
> (co-faculty @ Blue House)
> were escapees from that region (refugees). They'd
> heard Portland was
> different, and this was even before the TV show
> 'Portlandia' on IFC (a
> spoof of life here, different enough to warrant a TV
> series apparently --
> already in 3rd season).
>  I do think not teaching base 2 and base 16 is the
> signature of a poor
> school, like one of those in Florida I went to (gad
> that was awful, what a
> contrast from my privileged international school
> upbringing, poor Americans
> to have to put up with such garbage institutions --
> but then they created
> them, so I guess they get what they deserve? No,
> they deserve better.
> Lets liberate Florida!).
- -- "What,in your opinion, are the THINGS TO DO to develop effective schools"?
- -- "What,in your opinion, are the DIFFICULTIES/BARRIERS/THREATS that may hinder or prevent development of effective schools"?
- -- What STRENGTHS available? How to develop needed strengths not available?
- -- "What WEAKNESSES?"
- -- "What OPPORTUNITIES?" "What preparation required to avail those opportunities?"
Model all of the above, and you will find yourself (along with other stakeholders) continuingly generating all the answers you need to get the better systems needed.
>  People say "but I don't feel as comfortable
> reading a screen, I want to
> snuggle up in bed with a book" and yadda yadda.
> There will always be
> books, but to expect all your math texts to come
> printed out in thick heavy
> paper format is just spoiled brat thinking. What I
> say to these folks is
> "Don't you care for the environment you paper cup
> plastic utensil throwaway
> mindless consumer people? Stop just thinking about
> your own comfort for a
> change you selfish morons" (my co-faculty is better
> at it -- she hasn't
> ridden in a car for some years except for medical
> emergencies, thanks to
> her hatred of car culture and the thoughtlessness it
> engenders). We can't
> have so many billions all expected paper textbooks
> that have to get thrown
> away every few years. Lets get real.
Indeed. And that provides a whole lot of trigger questions to ask and models to make. See above.
"Getting real" IS indeed the name of the game!
Message was edited by: GS Chandy