The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

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

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: Why Do Americans Stink at Math? Some of the Answer.
Posted: Aug 22, 2014 1:41 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply
att1.html (14.2 K)

On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 8:35 AM, GS Chandy <> wrote:

> Kirby Urner (KU) posted Aug 21, 2014 8:00 PM (
> - GSC's remarks
> interspersed:

> > (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).

In debating culture, to which I was introduced at Overseas School of Rome,
but then even more seriously through my daughter's high school, a common
technique is to dig up the debate insofar as it has existed already.

Learn the history of the math wars, in other words. Try before you buy.
If you're not being assigned the resolution for sport, i.e. if you're
picking your own battles, then see how these battles have already panned
out for numerous others. You'll find many dead ends not worth pursuing.

This list has proved most educational over the years, in helping me piece
together fragments. How New Math and New New Math relate, for example.

Then there's what I've called Gnu Math, a pun on GNU, the progenitor of the
Linux-based ecosystem (GNU tools gave grad students like Linus the
wherewithal to start rolling their own operating system, thereby spawning
the whole "free and open source" movement (variously named)).

Movie / documentary on this early chapter: Revolution OS.

I leave that link for the benefit of other readers as I don't expect you
have the bandwidth for it, based on your humble track record.

> 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.

I think you have probably done more to publish that slogan about blowing up
education schools than any living human being. Carving that slogan into
your epitaph somewhere would be poetic justice I think.

Yes, you're against it, but in broadcasting it at the top of your voice
from every tree top, you have become the billboard and conduit for this
inanity. You have lost all traction on this issue and I'm not sure your
truck will move again -- until the dry season.

> 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,

I think you've shouted various slogans to the point where everyone else
here has their hands cupped over their ears wondering when your stereo
system will stop playing that heavy metal music at full volume. We are at
your mercy.

> though it is a very trivial matter, nothing to go all King Kong about.
> >

I completely agree, nothing to go King Kong about. You are far from being
any "master of the universe" as you might put it.

> >
> 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).

> >

In your case, for you in particular, there may be no hope, but that's not a
great tragedy. Others will carry on. GST itself will live on having been
already well established before you or I jumped on the bandwagon. I too am
but a foot soldier in many dimensions.

There may even be hope in your case. Lets see if you study anything new,
or continue recycling the slogans you so despise, as stale cannon fodder.

> 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.

> >

Old article on "Rummy's memos" as some call them:

> > 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'.

Core themes in my writings here on math-teach but obscure otherwise. I
can't blame you for being so manifestly inattentive.

The NCLB Polynomial is the 2nd degree polynomial with Phi as one of its
roots. I shared another derivation recently. Quite easily done (Q.E.D.).

The NCLB Polyhedron is the rhombic triacontahedron. That fits into this
other thing I write about a "concentric hierarchy" of polyhedrons (with
high mnemonic production values, very worth committing to memory in other
words, as an art-history student or whatever, definitely good for STEM).

> 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.

> >

Sorry, I was simply speculating on what it would take to most fulfill the
mission of spreading OPMS: other practitioners of the technique, whom you
acknowledge as such, would be essential in my humble opinion.

> > Donald Sutherland is an actor.
> >

> I know who he is, and he's NOT the 'prodigy' I'm looking for.
> >

You're not looking for a prodigy apparently. I'm always on the lookout for
prodigies in contrast. Donald Sutherland could be one. Rummy too through
his FNB connections (stuff Keith McHenry told me about, not sure if true).

> > 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.

> >>

Actors are stakeholders in the acting business, otherwise known as show
business. They have a lot of political clout as well, some of them.
Perhaps you saw the movie 'Bruno'....

Anyway, mere semantics. In more up to date language, we speak of agents
and agency where these are simple computer science concepts i.e. your
algorithm will have multiple agents seeking a result perhaps in parallel.
A kind of trial and error "genetic algorithm" may be implied.

I'm not sure if you understood about helmet crabs being programmed objects
(as you are). It's not like we're looking for counting horses or parrots
that count to ten. The notion is migrating birds are omni-triangulating
based on GPS signals that have to do with the stars, just like ships do.
That makes them "mathematical beings" one might say. In that sense, you
wouldn't say Americans have no math abilities. They're humans. They're
programmed. Just getting on and off a bus takes mathematical precision,
fine motor skills and so on. Especially if you're in a wheel chair.

In that sense, computation is happening all around us at blinding speed
24/7 and the human ego dips into it from time to time, consciously, but not
necessarily with any more aptitude than unconscious processes.

> > 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).
> Whatever.
> 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!!

I'm seeing lots of ways actors will be smoothing operations in GST-related
applications (GST[a]).

Lets compare notes more down the line.

I'm running with the GST ball, you may have noticed (cite web pages long
pre-dating our association on math-teach), and appreciate picking up more
regarding the Warfield - Peirce connection from the OPMS school. Good luck
on finding those other practitioners. [2]


Mock wiki-history site "as if" by right wing wackos, warning for R-rated


Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.