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Topic: Of Mathematics and Outdoor School
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kirby urner

Posts: 2,578
Registered: 11/29/05
Of Mathematics and Outdoor School
Posted: Dec 5, 2010 5:12 PM
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Having just spent many hours immersed in high school
culture, as a speech and debate event judge, I feel in a
position to reaffirm that we have a lot of the "right stuff"
in our subcultures.

Gearing up to provide more outdoor mathematics
experiences will necessitate creating vastly more jobs
in army surplus stocking and ordering. This will coincide
with the military having a lot of surplus given the surge
into cyber-warfare instead (the real front lines, where
the meme wars rage -- math wars a subtype).

The trainings might seem paramilitary owing to all the
recycling that's going on, which doesn't preclude getting
new stuff from North Face or like that. There will be a
change in fashion, towards more boots and head gear
(when riding electric ATVs).

I realize this sounds like boarding school for rich people,
not American public education. Diplomats might send
their kids to Oregon for some time in the outback,
learning the ropes around horses, native American
ways of life, based in some well-equipped high bandwidth
academy, where expert guests from around the world
either drop by in person, or show up on the big screen
in the auditorium. They mingle with tomorrow's leaders
and develop those supranational networks that last
longer than a lifetime in many cases.

But who can afford the $100K tuition that likely costs?
Not everyone lives inside the beltway, with both parents
pulling down hefty CIA salaries and flying to embassies
all the time for big bonuses, not to mention perks. Not
everyone lives in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in some luxurious
Middle East condo (I've been invited to Amman, but my
passport has expired so I can't even go to Canada at
the moment -- something to work on).

No, the schools I'm talking about, although they do
provide boarding, are not pre-programmed to only serve
the ruling elite in America's post-democracy oligarchy
(take the Philippines as a model, or any Banana
Republic). These are civics-intensive "frontier towns"
that model democracy on a small scale (cue
DemocracyLab), giving students a foretaste of
what life might be like in some science research
outpost in some Chinese high desert, gathering data
on flora and fauna.

The practice of rotating positions and responsibilities,
serving on committees and subcommittees, holding
facilitated (clerked) business meetings, will have
become familiar from prior schooling.

Dave U has been out in his "business mobile" scoping
out ghost towns in the Southwest we might want to
convert to this purpose. Cooperation at the state
level, from New Mexico and Arizona, would be a first
order of business. Care and maintenance of solar
steam dishes, placement of sensors, taking readings,
will be among the outdoor mathematics-related
activities required.

Will an SAT-like entrance test be required to access
these programs? Will some of the questions be about
sphere packing, as well as backpacking?

Before large numbers of students start agitating for
these opportunities, they'll need to see what they're
missing on TV. That will require adults, many of
them younger, but quite a few older, role modeling
this American way of life and having it seem attractive.

At the moment, most full time adult encampments are
either military or of the "tent city" variety, unless we
count the religious and survivalist camps such as you
might find among Quakers (ropes course, communal
kitchen, camp fire pit, stage). None of these facilities
are "camera ready" in the sense of showing off much
futuristic gear. The engineering after EPCOT has
been pretty feeble, piggy-backing on mostly military
fantasies of "world domination" in some retro style
reality (tanks are about as futuristic as armadillos).
The DEW line domes still look ahead of their time,
simply because of their geometry, which the public
schools do not teach -- even if there's a geodesic
play dome out in the school yard, as depicted here:

http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2010/12/countdown-to-zero-game.html

Addressing these deficiencies will require the efforts
of the TV industry, which stands to gain from having
more shows with Bucky Works (a genre of prop and/or
artifact) in the programming. Hollywood is starved for
positive futurist programming that's also realistic.

We will need more postmortems on why American
History is not being taught in an intelligible manner.
More use of documentaries in the public schools is
already the trend, so these more self reflective analyses
will likely find a receptive audience. "Connecting the
dots" is the name of the game.

Where is the mathematics in all this? We've already
discussed somewhere in this archive how public
schools need not be co-ed. The genre of girl scout
math some of us are pioneering is paving the way for
some of these pilot academies, wilderness based,
to be mostly staffed and run by females. From these
templates, the co-ed and even male-only schools
might arise. Think of what you already know of
object oriented programming, with polymorphism
and inheritance. Girl scout math (GSM) is all
about self-organization, dynamical systems
(biological systems) and modeling. When it comes
to developing new fashions and better gear, you
want a strong sense of aesthetics.

Will the startups actually be based in North America
though? I mentioned the Philippines earlier, a hub
for much of Southeast Asia and home to several
abandoned military bases with lingering environmental
issues. That means airstrips. Our multi-national
cast of thousands might initially want to take advantage
of these more tropical climes. Recruiting commercials
aimed at a North American audience will then highlight
this opportunity to engage in work / study overseas.
The counterpart schools in Colorado, attractive to a
mix of locals and foreign nationals, might come along
later, when more of the kinks have been worked out
in a more forgiving environment.

Kirby

Message was edited by: kirby urner



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