By consensus and history we're a K-12 focused group. That's the mandate NCTM gave itself, imitating Gattegno's focus in the UK.
Their first logo (NCTM's) was the octet-truss, in the spirit of the times (optimistic). Backpedaling away from that logo was at the insistence of Haim's Education Mafia, which felt threatened by this nod to Alexander Graham Bell and all that implied. Radical genius is disruptive whereas everyday schoolish math was to be paved over and rendered sanitized and safe, a kind of strip mall, tacky wallpaper for the brain, chintzy screen savers.
Besides, Bell Labs (Alexander's progeny) was already way too powerful for its own good. It took a university of the caliber of UC Berkeley to take back the IP and make BSD free, to where AT&T no longer has much of a logo to cash in, or was it SCO's logo by then? **.
However, I've been arguing that the rather deep level makeover that's happening, far from superficial / cosmetic, requires adult buy-in and, more than that, we need to reach the adults with the same curriculum, so they can test the waters themselves, administer whatever sniff tests. Some may run screaming but that's what democracy looks like. We don't lock the doors and "bolters" (those who bolt) are welcome (that's the great thing about this country: not one size fits all, uniformity / conformity not required).
Yesterday, we continued the municipal level conversation about bike lanes and bike routes, relationships to motor vehicles. Dallas was discussed, as another example of a city anxious to pull out of a car-heavy tail spin, the same one that's weighing down North Americans in general, an albatross. The devastating effects of this lifestyle on Europe are what turned the tide, and now Portland boasts Euro-level statistics in terms of bike ridership.
As you know if you've been studying my curriculum, to get an "A" in our courses requires getting off your duff and out doing stuff. Brain theory kicks in here and another at our meeting was a neuroscientist by the name of Larry Sherman. He corroborated my point, which Hansen denied, that musical training with instruments correlates positively with brain function, which is why math, music and wisdom all got lumped together by the Greeks, under the brand name of Athena.
Our cyclist delegate was Mia Birk, one of the chief urban planning consultants on this topic, including bike share programs (the biggest one in the country about to open in NYC).
When it was my turn to the microphone I asked about trip planning software, given TriMet's open source multi-modal offering, so exciting to our math teachers. It sits atop PostGIS, which is the adaptation of the Postgres technology for GIS/GPS work. We use it at Metro, the regional government that helps us plan all this stuff.
So if a math teacher / student gets a call from a dispatcher that ingredients A,B and C are available from warehouse J on N. Russell, she or he just has to dial in to the trip planner, not to find a bus route (buses don't take trailers) but to minimize elevation on the way back (pulling a heavy load). That's something the Portland system offers. Eat your heart out Berlin (or join us in using the same solution, help us continue to engineer).
The guts of the routing database itself is where the digital math track hooks in. Hansen thinks I'm talking about computer science when I talk about searches on polygons that pull up all data points of interest within a sector. But that's not how our curriculum breaks down.
At the very top level, we have only two subjects: Geometry and Geography (see MathFuture for more details). Everything else is regarded us under that umbrella, usually as a blend of both. Geography introduces "the scale factor" where it matters how "big" or how "small". In the Platonic realm, there's no energy and therefore no time or size to speak of, which is why math nerds boast how their subject "has nothing to do with the real world". That's the realm of Geometry for us, and why Plato's Academy warned away any students with zero geometric background.
We also study the force vectors involved with dragging stuff around town, in terms of the calories burned. This is that First Person Physics I always talk about. We care a lot about joules, and talk about individual humans as akin to X-watt bulbs in terms of what they burn. Just take like 8 billion, find the average burn rate, and voila, the total energy burn for the human species, just counting the warm bodies. Compare that to the daily intake of sun energy, transformed through photosynthesis into biomass (edible and wearable) and you start to have a complete picture of the human ecosystem / economy.
Everyone is working in this picture, expending energy. "Unemployement" is something else and has more to do with banking's overspending on software a lot, not getting it about open source, still thinking like one of the 1% (i.e. the least imaginative).
How do we recruit adults for this training and do they learn any spherical trigonometry as a result?
Where does the octet truss fit into all this?
These are good questions. We have booths here and there, where we recruit volunteers.
Lindsey is staffing the booth downtown at the OPDX campus (near PSU) and we get lots of questions. I've been in touch with this guy in Chicago on mathfuture who's into similar andragogical experiments and expect he'll keep me posted on those hexayurts.
A big focus is "camping" (as in Barcamp, Foocamp, Wherecamp... all these geek festivals, mostly in the unconference format but not always).
Given the Philippines is like the 3rd largest country that taps the Anglo philosophies (embedded in English), it wouldn't surprise me if we got some new bases adding there.
The last meeting about the routing database was at a Wherecamp in fact. Just remember how the same topological concepts (directionality, hubs, valency) relate to transportation networks of all kinds, including shipping and air.
People might be surprised how much industrial carpeting is actually flown to Japan from Georgia (as in Atlanta), versus put on ships. People get the wrong idea about a lot of things. That's because the "how things work" component of K-12 has all but been eliminated by the Education Mafia (they don't want their own role, as organized criminals, to come under scrutiny).
In restoring a more worldly awareness in the parents, we have more chance of rolling back their campaign to dumb us down.
For those still not sure what the octet truss is, here are some pictures from a recent workshop with math teacher Dan. I've pointed many times to the corresponding web page at NCTM's web site (Illuminations), in case teachers want to open these doors.
The response has been underwhelming however, as Analog Math still dominates in most zip codes. Not every city is so fortunate as Portland, with OPDX, PDX and Ikea all working so well together. Thanks to Trimet, Metro, UrbanInfluence and others (McMenamins...) for making it all happen.
** sorry for the financial arcana: SCO bought old AT&T Unix trademark thinking they could use it to go after GNU on intellectual property grounds. That campaign (which used fear and intimidation) backfired big time resulting in SCO's going the way of ENRON, its delisting from NASDAQ and ridicule from the bandwagon, where IBM et al were riding Linux into their brave new world, pumping it full of the know-how of the ages (because geeks know how, and owe no one but themselves).