> Kirby Posted: Sep 2, 2008 4:04 PM > > >I attempted one lengthy and one short reply to your > >latest backatchas, via the web interface, but these > >apparently got lost in the shuffle. I may try again > >later, may not. If you want a more free wheeling > >discussion, I suggest we find a less censorious > >and/or less work-losing environment. > > Kirby, > > I, too, have lost a few postings, to Math-Teach, > that I thought were alright. More often, > however, when my posts have failed to get through it > was because there was too much personal edginess too > them. A few times I re-wrote the posts, taking the > personal references out, and the posts got through > just fine. > > Any chance that is what happened to you?
Possibly, but I have a hard time internalizing whatever value system is doing the deciding, feel it's sort of hit or miss.
> As for my "backatchas", is that how you feel about > all dialogue, or only about dialogues wherein > your interlocutor does not agree with every point you > make? Personally, I have never understood the point > of exploring a subject with people who completely > agree with me. Unless you believe you are "the last > and the greatest prophet of God", you must have some > doubt about your ideas.
I think you read too much into my use of that term, which went across my screen recently ("backatcha"), kinda liked it, found an opportunity to redeploy. Sometimes I'm more just the passive meme vector, forwarding more than originating. I don't spread chain letters though, not into mass mailings either.
> You should want to test your ideas, and there are > are several ways to do that. One way is to present > them in a forum and invite criticism. Is that not > the point of academic conferences, for example?
I'm completely open to testing in public forums, which is what I'm doing here, you're right about that. A two way street of course, as each one of us gets to refine and define our thinking. I'll attempt to reinject some more substance into it below.
> Of course, the key is that the criticism is about > ideas, not about personalities, something that > our leftist friends in this forum haven't quite yet > got a grasp on. > > Haim > Unashamedly White and Unapologetically Jewish
So like I was talking about SQL (Structured Query Language), know from years in the computer world that (a) SQL is still relevant and (b) it's likely to remain so, even as database theory continues to be an inventive and fertile area, with other approaches gaining ground.
Few people think of teaching any SQL as a part of an ordinary high school algebra class, but here in Portland you might get an inservice day listening to Kirby yak about Python, showing how a relational database might contain information about Polyhedra, such that students are getting reinforcement in both geometry and set theory at the same time, a valuable connecting of dots and without that "but what is this good for?" complaint, as it's quite demonstrably a relevant set of skills that we're looking at.
When I was a grad student at St. Peters College in Jersey City, just about anyone taking computer classes was looking to get a job in private industry. You had lots of high school math teachers, seeking a higher income. My approach is to move in the other direction, taking this knowledge and skills into the schools, creating new opportunities for faculty already in place. Here's a way to revitalize your curriculum, take advantage of those computers your school maybe purchased, is now wondering what to do with.
Does every school in the country care what Kirby thinks and do I give my Python Briefing just anywhere, and am I the only one doing it? Answer: no, most have never heard of me or what I'm up to, no I don't stand and deliver just anywhere and I'm working on expanding my stable of presenters, recruiting mostly *not* computer science professors, as I'm seeking to inspire imitators less than I'm hoping to cow high school computer and/or math teachers into submission (many have come up through the ranks, might have been the gym teacher at some point - -- relevant, because our curriculum takes us outside a lot, gotta see stars).
Given this is a private business and given the schools are already getting whatever funding they're getting, you don't have to see this as Kirby milking the cash cow, as I'm pretty much giving away the Briefing, only vending the catalog services and artifacts a faculty may ask for as follow-up (including more classes). Some want more training, some want more toys. There's a profit margin for me (for us) in providing that follow-up (which is not mandatory, not state mandated). Also, I don't just work with public schools, sometimes present to government agencies or whatever (been doing this since the 1980s, next gig after McGraw-Hill, though not around Python as that's part of the 2nd computer revolution (PC, then open source)).
I think we're talking about teacher choice here. You and your camp talk a lot about vouchers, but my focus is teachers unhappy with or ready to move beyond the antediluvian crappola (oh oh, will that kill it? -- nothing personal), wanting to bring their students into the 21st century. The arguments for using Python or some other computer language as a part of math learning, along with SQL, other job-relevant tools, are quite strong (for those needing arguments) i.e. we're still doing state standard topics, like trig, vectors, statistics, just are no longer stuck with only black boxy calculators or prone-to-fail robots as our rather poor excuse for "technology in the classroom".
In some schools, you have enough geek parents, like in Portland / Beaverton, to make this very much a parent- driven response, i.e. they bring in Kirby or someone like him, because that's what a lot of parents think oughta happen, they're already sold on the core concept (a stronger hybrid of math and computer science = a new kind of numeracy that flies, cleverly marketed as GnuMath in some circles).
As to what databased research proves or disproves that this one initiative is effective or bearing fruit, we'll have to wait and see a little, as we're talking about rather new programming. Safe to say, I've done a lot of field testing, including with students of a high school age. They've filled out evaluations (unseen by me), plus some are now old enough to be entering the job market, or are applying for college (good to have choice there too).
Here's a paragraph I've been sharing with some of my AlgebraFirst buddies, just to give a better sense of my operational goal for this region (maybe New York will clone me, not holding my breath):
""" My angle is it's less the degree or credential that matters and more the evidence of skills, something to brag about in a job interview, that you know SQL, even though just fresh out of high school. I'm aiming towards a local economy in which a high school degree might be sufficient again, for some entry level job, with college and company life really a lot congruent in future, as work/study people farm themselves out to this or that training, including history and geography when traveling to that region... ends up being very like a college degree, but measured more in promotions within the company (an old template, no original thinking here, except it all sounds kinda retro, now that we take quasi- universal college for granted). """