Date: May 9, 2013 11:43 AM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: When math makes sense - w/ cooking, consruction

On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 11:37 PM, Greg Goodknight <> wrote:

> On 05/08/2013 09:16 PM, kirby urner wrote
> Testing is integral. Performance gets reviewed. True in scouting as
> well. You get badges, like grades in some ways.
> The issue is whether the testing, whether integral or not, is revealing
> the same information for the new way as for the old.
> A teacher in the tank for hands-on approaches reporting how great the kids
> are doing isn't the same. The plural of anecdote is not objective data.

You know what it means to rotate an object, such that its projected shadows
alter on the various reference planes.

Assuming a student's testable capabilities are projections, with the
student a multi-dimensional object, you want to find optimal orientations
for a kind of global growth. Like finding eigenvectors.

Being "good at math" is a planar projection, a slice, and depends as much
on the measuring tools as performance.

School A and School B have different curricula and different tests. A
"national test", if too important (say financially, to the school), skews
the curricula to optimize relative to the national slice / plane / test,
but perhaps at a cost to the kind of globally optimized growth we were

Biodiversity (differences among schools / curricula) is what many "national
standards" people feel threatened by; people with significantly different
schooling from themselves, running for office.

More scouting actually may be worth a drop on some national tests,
especially if our alternative tests have a higher STEM IQ than the national
tests. We have more figurate and polyhedral numbers, computer programming,
tool use in general, along with disciplines of lightning talk, cooking for
groups, budgeting.

The US is a political entity not expected to be especially good at math
(why should it be?). Or (alternative model) maybe the US is great at math,
which is why there's so much pressure to re-orient even against the will of
the relative numbskulls in charge of education policy. Thomas Jefferson
would prefer they use saws and drills more, team work. Higher EQ.

> Yes, that's how they'd carved the turkey back then. Math was for
> brains and shop was for "below grade level". The ethnic stereotypes
> abound.
> NO, Kirby. Shop at my school was for **everyone**, including the middle
> class white kids. The math in the shops was below grade level because shop
> in the 8th grade didn't (and doesn't) require much math.

OK, so math was to develop a certain kind of braininess whereas shop didn't
push that hard with oscilloscopes as sine waves and A sin Bx + C, Fourier
Analysis etc.

Shop was not combined with building telescopes, shooting rockets or using
the school planetarium, or fixing the electric ATVs or replacing hard
drives in the school rack.

In a scouting environment, a push to understand geodesy (Earth measure)
more deeply than in either geometry or geography classes so far, would be
considered normal.

The more advanced stuff may be studied in that bubble village you needed to
hike to (GPS helping). There's actually not a building called a "school"
(a "lodge" maybe, and the whole camp is alternatively a "campus"). Shops
with apprentices, on the other hand, abound.

Orienteering is likewise not math.

Playing chess is not math, and yet mathematicians study chess.

Yes, they do. Do they call it math, or do they call it chess?

What's the correlation between growing math skills (variously tested) and
playing board games involving strategy, card games involving probability.
Could playing poker improve computation skills? It could provide a

Schools often have a chess club, but it's not the math teachers job to
teach chess. At least not in North America in public schools. There's a
lot of uniformity in what goes on in those schools and you can say with a
fair amount of certainty that no math teacher has the power / gall /
defiance to make "learning chess" a mandatory activity within his math

It's not in the text book and the clock is ticking. He or she has much to

"Chess is not part of the math we teach" is the verdict from on high. I'd
say that's the picture we face today.

We find an ethnicity / subculture bound by arbitrary rules about what
"math" is, and a testing regimen that dares not dwell too much on card
games, asking which is the more probable hand, because card games don't fit
the puritanical mold and North Americans tend to be prudish / puritanical
to the point of being morons in many areas, performing abysmally on many
tests (including on tests about health).

> I recall in the college symphony that math, physics and engineering majors
> dominated the percussion and brass sections. We called it "music", not
> math, despite the mathematical relationships specified by the musical
> notations, yet another bit of technology that was developed over the last
> millennium.
> Really, Kirby, let's call the spade a spade. Math isn't orienteering,
> chess, music or woodshop.
> -Greg

In your culture it's not, but these slices through semantic space are
somewhat arbitrary.

We also have this arbitrary wall between math and computer science.
"Really, Kirby, lets call the spade a spade. Computer science isn't math,
technology isn't engineering and science isn't math."

Orienteering involves geodesy, chess is a topic in many math and
programming books, music and technology go together, wood instruments...
it's all STEM.

That's part of the point of STEM, to break free of the labeling schemes of
your culture, the one we are not really trying to keep alive (well past its
pull date). There might not be a homecoming queen either.