Date: May 10, 2013 3:35 PM
Author: Greg Goodknight
Subject: Re: When math makes sense - w/ cooking, consruction

On 05/09/2013 05:38 PM, kirby urner wrote:
> Kirby, everyone's kids were falling behind, everyone at the
> district was in denial before the SAT9 was forced on them, and the
> New New Math is still here. For example, Phil Daro, one of the
> architects of California's whole math debacle is a prime mover of
> the Common Core disaster apparently in the making.
> We're not necessarily on opposite sides here. I am happy to agree
> that New New Math was a disaster.
> New Math was great stuff, just inappropriate for most math
> teachers. One can still buy the New Math inspired Dolciani
> Structure and Method series, and they were a godsend when even the
> St.Sensible fell short of my son's needs.
> Yeah, I had New Math before moving to Italy and doing Junior English,
> OSR, then Florida for first semester high school (the worst school in
> the train), then International School in Manila. Then Princeton.
> Then School of Life. :-)
> Nowadays, I think of Saturday Academy as giving Portland many shots in
> the arm, hoping to help it awaken from the long dull dream that his
> been Industrial Era education in our Gotham. So dreary, so bland.

Googling Kirby Urner, yoor course of study at Princeton was Philosophy,
followed by some graduate Ed classes. Are you certificated as a math
teacher anywhere? What math courses did you take, and no, computer
science, while related to math, isn't math.

I've never pretended to be a math teacher, just a parent with a
pitchfork and degrees in physics and electrical engineering who was
appalled at the new new math being served in the elementary school that
owned my son based on the street address.

> BTW, I'll cut the flogging of the dead horse to a minimum. I chose
> MIT as the real STEM baccalaureate institution to refer to because
> the two real STEM colleges that are ahead of MIT for the
> percentage of alums with PhD's are both in Los Angeles County and
> I didn't want to trigger any Ore-gone-ian Californiaphobia.
> I only feel sorry for California, most day. Could be such a glorious
> state, but trampled upon. I have family there.
> Most STEM cheerleaders are essentially just cargo cultists
> erecting poor imitations of science, math, and engineering hoping
> that good STEM stuff will drop in.
> Well, I'm distinctly elitist and look down on most PhDs as
> over-specialized larvae when it comes to the abilities as polymaths.
> Most still need to hatch. But that's just me.

Considering you're trying to make waves in math education with a BA in
Philosophy (is that where your self-revealed elitism springs from?) and
Python in your quiver, I can understand your motivation to denigrate
advanced degrees in math and sciences. A true "polymath" displays a
range of knowledge that is a mile wide and a mile deep, but I'm
struggling to find any depth to your approach.

Kudos to you for your Python instructor status in O'Reilly's online
trade school (their book line has always been decent) but you mighy want
to revise your remarks regarding "most PhDs as over-specialized larvae";
perhaps if you had more of the qualities of the polymaths you speak of
your judgement would have more weight.


> A lot of my colleagues are more starry-eyed when it comes to degrees
> and academic credentials. I'm happy where I'm at for the moment,
> working for an on-line school based, yes, in CA.
> Sometimes I call what I teach "Gnu Math", a pun on "New Math" and an
> accurate reflection of what we owe the GNU project, in liberating us
> from the high costs of intellectual property owners who planned to
> squeeze it out of us until the cows came home. Now we have power
> tools galore, and have started work on tractors:
> Kirby