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Topic: Re: Why Do Americans Stink at Math? Some of the Answer.
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 22, 2014 2:14 PM

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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: Why Do Americans Stink at Math? Some of the Answer.
Posted: Aug 22, 2014 11:35 AM
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Kirby Urner (KU) posted Aug 21, 2014 8:00 PM ( - GSC's remarks interspersed:
> On Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 9:32 PM, GS Chandy
> <> wrote:

> > "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?"
> >
> > (GSC): Here is something that could lead to the whole
> >answer:
> >

> (KU): How does OPMS and GST[a] more generally recognize
> a bogus question, versus
> encouraging lengthy analysis of something that's just
> wrong?
> For example, this claim that Americans stink at math:
> for rhetorical
> purposes and to feed the debates, I'm all in favor of
> launching such
> resolutions within the mix, but should it be treated
> as a claim of fact as
> well?

Well yes, the OPMS does not alas have any facilities to enable the user to recognise 'bogus questions'. It's entirely up to the user's 'good sense' if any, to check out the 'bogusity' of the questions taken up for consideration. (I suspect it cannot ever provide the user with the good sense he should have imbibed with his mother's milk).

But consider the fact that we HAVE had, right here at Math-teach (and everywhere else in the world), an inordinate amount of quite serious discussion on 'slogans' and other such rubbish that were not really less foolish than the rhetorical question at the title of this thread.

It really is up to the user to decide where and how he/she will deploy the OPMS (and his/her own limited energies). Sometimes, one might goof up: in fact, I *know* I've goofed up more than I've succeeded. That's life: I am, after all, attempting a very ambitious 'Mission'.

And yet, with all that accepted, I do seem to observe (without having done any kind of empirical study on the matter) that the 'sloganeering' at Math-teach has significantly diminished since I took it up as something worth "poking with a stick" so to speak (in Robert Hansen's words). I'm fairly sure that there were no sudden conversions, like that of Saul on his way to Tarsus; no flashes of light; no insights that came about. But reasonably gratifying, nonetheless,
though it is a very trivial matter, nothing to go all King Kong about.
> Remember that Keith Devlin and some cronies have
> redefined "math" within
> STEM to mean something more like "bees do it, birds
> do it" i.e. creatures
> such as the helmet crab are endowed with high level
> mathematical algorithms
> running all on their own, and who are we to say
> nature's computer is
> inferior to ours, embedded as it is within her
> matrix?
> Philosophically, in other words, we may distance
> ourselves from PISA (good
> pun) and TIMMS scores (dots on a graph) and start
> asking ourselves some
> better questions that don't rely on input from these
> musty-dusty figments
> from the 1900s, the "unbelievable century" (in terms
> of how long people
> took to make intelligent use of their new toyz 'n
> etoyz, still "playin'
> those war games forever..." [a John Lennon allusion
> you might not pick up
> way out there in India]).

I know rather little about PISA, or TIMMS (etc, etc) - and I don't really care too much about the mathematical abilities of the horse or the hermit crab or the calculating savant: my desire is to do something - ANYTHING - that might enable us to rescue ourselves from the abyss towards which we're heading more or less inexorably. (Thus far, I've not found much in the way of hope).
> Anyway, I digress. My main question is: as an avatar
> of the OPMS
> application of GST principles, how do you advertise
> its merits by not
> engaging in useless wheel spinning, like a truck in
> the mud just digging
> itself in deeper in muddy weather, versus applying
> STEM principles to get
> free? How do you gain traction?

I'm fairly sure I know how to do the last - and I believe some kind of momentum may now be developing. Is it enough? Is it in time? I do not know.
> How do you
> recognize a monkey-wrench
> question designed to disrupt and distract board room
> proceedings, versus a
> question the board will find more nurturing in the
> long term? How do
> directors benefit? Where might you apply these
> skills in show business?
> My own answer to this question would be along the
> lines of "GIGO" i.e. if
> you have no domain knowledge, don't expect waltzing
> into a technical field
> such as medicine, OPMS in hand, is going to get you
> very far if you've done
> no homework. There's no "magic ladder" that makes
> you the boss of a
> situation just because you have some techniques, but
> no experience in the
> realm. Getting sea legs in whatever namespace takes
> time and dedication.

Surely you've observed that I have always stated clearly that it is ONLY the 'stakeholders' who will (/may) resolve their problems and issues. It's not OPMS that does it - it's the 'stakeholders' (unappealing though Wayne Bishop finds the term/concept of stakeholders).

It's not GSC either. (The only issue that GSC can usefully advise on is on practical matters involved in providing suggestions on "applying OPMS to an issue of concern to you - how to interpret the models you may construct for yourself, how perhaps you need not 'waste' your ideas - what to do next en route to an Action Plan"
> However, if you *do* have a lot of experience, that's
> another matter, and a
> single page memorandum-based style of management may
> suit you (Donald
> Rumsfeld, probably not one of your heroes, was
> possibly a proto OPMS user),
> in your respective domain(s).

The OPMS is NOT anything like a "single page memorandum-based style of management" of the kind that Donald Rumsfeld might have used. It IS a practical means of 'crystallising' EVERYTHING in connection with a 'Mission' onto a single page, with 'linkages' to perhaps thousands on THOUSANDS of pages or more, of YOUR ideas, models, questions, thoughts, etc, etc about that 'Mission'. It's a different ball-game entirely.
> That was my segue to Pentagon Math, another meme
> related to NCLB Polynomial
> and Polyhedron.

Well, I know nothing about 'Pentagon Math'; 'NCLB Polynomial'; 'Polyhedron'.
> The common thread here is Phi, not Pi, and some
> pronounce it Fee as in FEE
> Fie Fo Fum, and others say Fie, as in Fee FIE Fo Fum.
> I tend to be in the
> latter camp.
> Then there's the camp that says Tau, which I reserve
> for Phi's reciprocal.
> Fortunately, a language as universal as mathematics
> doesn't really need us
> to resolve these local namespace issues to advance
> more globally. We're
> kinda lucky that way.
> In sum: OPMS / GST[a] is only as good a tool as the
> tool user makes it.

And hence the 'stakeholders' that so irritate (irrigate?) some of us. EVERY tool, including a hammer or a chisel or a 'natural language' is only as good a tool as the tool user makes it. So what's new?
> Your goal would be to find prodigies who you might
> circle as role models,
> such as Donalds Rumsfeld and/or Sutherland, should
> either prove worthy i.e.
> should your criteria apply.

You're ENTIRELY wrong, I'm afraid.

I know what my goal is, and it's NOT to find 'prodigies' as role models, be they Donald Rumsfeld or Donald Sutherlahd.
> Donald Sutherland is an actor.

I know who he is, and he's NOT the 'prodigy' I'm looking for.
> What actors (a gender-neutral term) do you associate
> with GST?

Stakeholders. Stakeholders. Stakeholders. Stakeholders. ... ad infinitum. They're the ONLY actors. Not as glamorous as either Donald might be, but life is I'm afraid not going to be very glamorous from here on.
> This is a
> question to meditate on, not answer immediately, if
> at all (what we Quakers
> call a query, a way of uncorking thinking from its
> bottle, more than caring
> exactly what flows out at first -- just get thoughts
> flowing, that's the
> main thing).
> Kirby

That is, in fact, a question I've been 'meditating' on for practically forever, since I tested out OPMS on the very first 'Mission' for which I constructed some systems models. If I recollect correctly, it was "To conduct an OPMS presentation for ---". (It went off pretty well, but ironically the company folded before they could do anything about it, alas).


One iron-clad guarantee can be provided, whether you're successful or not with your chosen 'Mission' (measuring 'success' on Robert Hansen's terms):

OPMS will for sure keep the ideas (thoughts) flowing (if you have any interest at all in your Mission). And it may also get your thoughts flowing even if you have no interest in your Mission!!


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