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Discussion: Research Area
Topic: February 2003: Question 3

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Subject:   Bacon
Author: George Reese
Date: Mar 30 2003
I found the posts very interesting. They sent me back to Bacon that I hadn't
read since undergrad days. A section on the Idols of the Theatre, I found
particularly interesting. Maybe this is the one you were thinking of.


Lastly, there are idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various
dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call
Idols of the Theater; because in my judgment all the received systems are but so
many stage-plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal
and scenic fashion. Nor is it only of the systems now in vogue, or only of the
ancient sects and philosophies, that I speak: for many more plays of the same
kind may yet be composed and in like artificial manner set forth; seeing that
errors the most widely different have nevertheless causes for the most part
alike. Neither again do I mean this only of entire systems, but also of many
principles and axioms in science, which by tradition, credulity, and negligence
have come to be received.

But of these several kinds of idols I must speak more largely and exactly, that
the understanding may be duly cautioned."

It's really what I'm most interested in as I have read research in mathematics
education over the years. The human aspects of teaching are overwhelming. It's
hard to isolate variables. It's hard to say, "this works" and think that it will
hold for all teachers. On the otherhand, there can be a growing consensus of
thoughtful people one what the best approaches are.

That's why I find the literature on best practices most informative, and forums
where instructors are sharing ideas to be some of the most exciting places.

As I was looking at the roundtable discussion and seeing the ideas, urls, and
support that was being shared, I thought, "now this is real peer review." People
putting out their ideas and resources and seeing what resonates with others.


On Mar 28, 2003, gayla wrote:

I apologize for taking your question in a direction that appealed to me.  My
response was not addressing your question, now that I have gone back and reread
both.  Please feel free to delete this message and my last one.  Subjectivity
vs. objectivity is one of my very favorite topics, and I got carried away.

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