On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 10:37 PM, GS Chandy <gs_chandy@yahoo.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"

http://www.corestandards.org/articles/8-national-governors-association-and-state-education-chiefs-launch-common-state-academic-standards

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.


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.  Some 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.

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).

> The first thing students should learn is there's lots
> of disagreement about what's being taught, which isn't
> an excuse to stop learning or not learn
> (people have a natural hunger to learn in my model).
>
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).

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. 

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.

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.  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.

Resolved:  high schools should teach more computer programming in mathematics classes.  Debate.

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.

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?

We have this nation-state based way of thinking that we're taught in school.  It's semi-effective.  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.

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):  

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/3292180674/in/photostream/

Here I am with the same map lecturing to a bunch of IEEE people (electronics types) at Portland Center Stage on election night, 2008:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/3012455546/

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 [1]).

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.

>
> 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.  Mostly they're apologetic and secretive about it, like other illiterate people are.   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.

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.

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 group.

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)).[2]


>  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.

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 children.  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). [3]

> 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 pioneered.

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 offense.

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).

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. 

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. [4]

Likewise to change from accepting 'illiteracy' - this change has already occurred in society practically everywhere in the world.

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.

E.g.:

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 to.  That shouldn't matter though, as I agree my effectiveness may always be increased.

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 taxonomy).

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.  Rapists are unpowerful and not fully mature humans (psychologically).

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 exceptions).  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. [5] 

>
> Those questions look pretty desultory and insipid,
> but that's what standards
> are like.[5]
>
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 work.

>
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.[6]

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.

Kirby

Notes:

[1]  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).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/8419407448/in/photostream  (picture of book cover)

[2] 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 Drupal).
 
[3]  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.

[4] 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).

[5] 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!).

[6] 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.