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Topic: Re: constructivism in the 90s -- the 390BC's
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 18, 2000 3:59 PM

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Greg Goodknight

Posts: 1,233
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: constructivism in the 90s -- the 390BC's
Posted: Aug 18, 2000 11:39 AM
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The Socratic method works beautifully when there is a Socrates shepherding
the group. Let's not confuse the elder von Karman guiding the young Fermis,
Einsteins or Von Neumanns of the world with a class of 4th graders trying to
teach each other how to divide 1/2 into 3 3/4 when their teacher doesn't
necessarily have a firm grasp of it themselves.


-----Original Message-----
From: Guy Brandenburg <>
To: <>
Date: Thursday, August 17, 2000 3:17 PM
Subject: constructivism in the 90s -- the 1890s!

>I have been reading a very interesting book called "The Making of the
>Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. He discusses, among other things, the
>education of people like Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard,
>Theodor von Karman, Edward Teller, Johnny von Neumann, and so on, who
>played major parts in the development of nuclear power, explosives, and
>so on.
> Here is a passage from page 108 of my pbk edition:
>"The Minta {a nickname for a certain school in Hungary -- note added by
>GFB} that Szilard and Teller later attended deeply gratified von Karman
>when he went there in the peaceful 1890s. 'My father [who founded the
>school],' he writes, 'was a great bdeliever in teaching everything --
>Latin, math, and history -- by showing its connection with everyday
>living.' To begin Latin the students wandered the city copying down
>inscriptions from statues and museums; to begin mathematics they looked
>up figures for Hungary's wheat producation and made tables and drew
>graphs. 'At no time did we memorize rules from a book. Instead we sought
>to develop them ourselves.' What better basic training for a scientist?"
>On the other hand, Albert Einstein, according to Rhodes ended up
>rebelling against the autocracy and rote learning of the German
>Gymnasium, was either expelled or quit, even though he was a brilliant
>student, renounced his German citizenship at the ripe old age of 17
>(January 28, 1896), and finished his secondary education in democratic
>Switzerland. {see pages 170-171 for more details.)
>So, when anybody claims that the idea of constructivism is solely a
>result of the evil NCTM who hatched it in 1988 or 1989, they are at best
>sorely mistaken.
>Guy F. Brandenburg

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