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Topic: Governors' Math Standards (a pointer to a neighboring archive)
Replies: 1   Last Post: Mar 16, 2010 7:18 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
Governors' Math Standards (a pointer to a neighboring archive)
Posted: Mar 16, 2010 6:42 PM
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I'm reposting the comments from a public archive (anyone can read it),
daring to fix a couple typos. Here's a link to the original:

I think it's worth looking over the shoulders of computer science
professors, when it comes to tracking the Math Wars. They have their
own perspective, of course. I encourage posters here to poke around,
get familiar.

Maria Droujkova is a role model in this respect (when it comes to
poking around on many lists), as her Math 2.0 website indeed works at
pulling a lot of these threads together, including looking at the
future role of computers, which hardly anyone is doing on math-teach
besides me (take the bait anyone?).

If you dig further into February and March on this math-thinking-l,
you'll see they're squabbling about whether to use functional or
imperative paradigms (or do we call these "paradigms"?), a debate that
goes completely over the heads of most laymen, yet creates the
appearance of a logjam that may scare away funders.

I allude to this debate in speaking of Great Lambda worshipers (part
of our cyber-space geography might be to identify their holiest web
sites). Python's "little lambda" borrows from the LISP / Scheme
family but was little more than a twinkle in Guido's eye (hence
"little lambda").

I've blogged more about this logjam, trying to get more philosophers
to serve as referees:

I realize we're not used to philosophers having much of a constructive
role in the Math Wars, so this attempt to recruit a few sounds rather
off beat and alien. Putting these debates on the shoulders of
politicians and bureaucrats makes even less sense however. We need
more polymaths to weigh in, pronto.

On this list (math-teach), GS comes off as a philosopher, being into
management theory. In fact, lots of manager-engineers are also
philosophers, either in or out of the closet as such. Terry Bristol,
president of ISEPP (that Linus Pauling House group I mention) is out
of the closet as a philosopher, as are Glenn and myself.

That doesn't put us all on the same page, but at least we're willing
to read outside any one specialized area -- very important if wanting
to venture into policy-making.

"Read widely or perish" might be the better enjoinder than "publish or
perish", although when you post to the Internet, that's an opportunity
to show you've been doing some homework, reading outside just one
narrow field.



On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:33 PM, David Gries <dgries at> wrote:

<< snip >>

> Any high-school or college level course that teaches recursive functions should be teaching such a model of execution. However, knowing how to execute a function call is entirely different from knowing how to understand (prove correct) a function based on its specification; the latter is really dependent on mathematical induction.
> David Gries
> gries at

Mathematics versus Computer Science

This is somewhat encouraging to read, as Gary is pointing to a K-12
math standards site, no mention of CS anywhere I don't think. The
governors don't care about CS that much, an elective in high school,
not a requirement.

What's encouraging is that a CS specialist would still look for (and
maybe find) a toe hold in K-12.

Standards Crafting in Oregon

Is Oregon's governor consulting with our Linus Pauling House group
regarding where math teaching might go? Terry organized a Math Summit
for the whole state in 1997, featuring Sir Roger Penrose, Keith Devlin
and several other luminaries.

I was a workshop leader and mic runner, wrote up the event, made the
ideas public.

Ever since then, I've been traveling around the world (OK, a couple
trips), thanks to sponsors (Swedish), touting something more up to
date and technologically informed (something more like the Litvins
text, though I've not been especially anti the Great Lambda worshipers
(Python has "little lambda")).

Goals for Computational Math

Any computer programming at all would be a big step in the right
direction, as it means freedom to use more powerful technology in a
math class setting, getting free from just calculators (still the norm
in most venues). We need a mathematics for the digital age, call it
discrete, call it computational, call it whatever you like. We needed
it 10 years ago.

The use of GIS (geographic information systems) to spread information
relevant to policy-making (a fond goal of Ecotrust, one of our
flagship NGOs) is more likely in proportion to getting students used
to working with the likes of Google Earth.

If you're used to flying over zip codes, picking up characteristic
statistics, you're going to be a whole lot more effective in public
debates, won't just be a "mindless voter" who hits a lever every six
months or so (very not participatory, that image of democracy).

Geometry and geography should be intimately conjoined, as one of the
deepest criticisms leveled at USA kids especially is they have no
concept of where things are or of what the world looks like. This
extends to lack of knowledge of one's own city and how to get around.

Math class should help with this, shedding the stereotype about never
being about the real world.

Relevant Oregon Institutions

The Oregon Curriculum Network has been on-line for well over a decade,
providing plenty of free resources to both charter and home schools
(all public and private schools have a charter of some kind, so I tend
to lump them as such).

We've also been tapped by Saturday Academy to offer what Silicon
Foresters consider cutting edge math. Both Glenn Stockton and I are
in the batters' box. Saturday Academy is sponsored by IBM, Xerox and
such players and aims to provide what the governors seem to not care
about: a relevant education.

No, to the best of my knowledge, our bevy of scientists and engineers
has not been consulted, nor has ONAMI been approached (our
nanotechnology hub, state funded, interested in education, has a Zome
buckyball in the conference room).


So if the process in Oregon is any indication of what the process is
like in other states, I'd say it's probably shallow and the result of
a lot of unimaginative memo writing (we should exhume the paper trail
to get a sense of it).

I don't expect much will come of it, as serious-minded professionals
such as we find here will blow the whistle, register their disdain.

What I suspect is going on is a lot of cutting and pasting across
state lines at the middle management level, a mediocretizing process
often confused with democratizing.

It'd be convenient for mass publishers to have this "one size fits
all" set of standards to write to, another way to combat localization,
place based curricula, schools that emphasize faculty control mixed
with strong town-gown relations etc.

We know from biology that mono-culture is dangerous, leads to
ecosystem fragility. In the USA we have 50 states for a reason, i.e.
to retain some strategic level of diversity associated with continued
viability. Congratulations to Alaska and Texas for so far refusing to
toe the party line.


> On Mar 16, 2010, at 3:05 PM, Litvin wrote:
> Have people looked at the draft released a few days ago by the national panel? They say 48 states agreed to adopt it (Texas and Alaska are the holdouts.) It does mention discrete mathematics... in exactly one sentence: "Other forms of advanced work are possible (for example in discrete mathematics or advanced statistics) and can be eventually added to the standards." If not for this sentence, one might think this draft was written before Turing was born. This is a step back from NCTM standards of a dozen years ago, where discsrete math merited a whole paragraph. This standards draft also mentions computational, in exactly one sentence: "A graphing utility or a CAS can be used to experiment with properties of the functions and their graphs and to build computational models of functions, including recursively defined functions."
> Seems like one more missed opportunity...
> BTW, can someone tell me what they mean by "building computational models of functions"?
> Gary Litvin

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