Sunday, August 18, 2019

Most Popular #56-60

Planet Narnia:  Hiding In Plain Sight. I was convinced of the book's premise then, and argued in favor of it.  I now think I was wrong. YMMV. October 2010

States Turning. A discussion about a year ago of red states going purple. There have also been blue states going purple, but I know little about that. November 2018

Trade, and Tradeoffs. A single-issue rant.  I can't figure out why it was so popular.  Friends may have linked to it. April 2012

Math Should Be Taught Like Literature. A counterintuitive idea. December 2013

The Szondi Profile.  From 2009, reprinted in 2018.  A very strange psychological test. I think there is so little out there on the Szondi test that my post must come up high on search results.


RichardJohnson said...

Math should be taught like literature? I hope not. The Junior Literary Critic model for teaching high school and college English turned me off big time. Before high school, I liked English class. In high school and college, I hated English class. Finding hidden symbolism and the like, in fulfillment of the Junior Literary Critic role, seemed to me like bullshitting. By contrast, the math proofs that I learned to construct from 9th grade on were far from bullshitting. They were empowering, as they helped me learn to construct an argument.

While I loved writing proofs, students of more average abilities did not like it. The president of my 11th grade class wrote in my yearbook: "No more math misery." She was a solid B student (not a 2019 era B), not brilliant but far from dumb. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another.

As a former math teacher, I view the Algebra for All movement to be ill-considered. A lot of students would better benefit from consumer math and statistics- math for real life.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

My main point in that one was that practical math - probabilities and statistics, plus the business math like accounting that others suggested - should be emphasised for the 90%, because math is not as progressive and continuous as we put forth. The 10% who are going on to Algebra II or Advanced Geometry and beyond may need it presented as building blocks. For the rest, teaching them as discrete sections is possible, and frees up the class from the burden of pretending that geometry is needed to do statistics

RichardJohnson said...

While we may not necessarily agree on what percentage should take Algebra II/Trig compared to business math and statistics, we both agree that more students should be on the business math/statistics route.
(While one can have calculators, I would also like more emphasis on estimating. It is quite useful to have "ballpark" estimates in many areas in real life. Perhaps ironically, the various associate/commutative/distributive laws I encountered in New Math in 9th grade helped me in estimating.)

At the same time, there is something to be said for not closing opportunities early,for keeping options open. When my sister was in high school, she wanted to become an artist. While she did well in math, it is not difficult to see that some who view themselves as future artists would also consider 4 years of the standard high school college prep math curriculum as being unnecessary. However, people change their minds. After dropping out of college and working years at clerical jobs, my sister decided to become an engineer. Had she not taken 4 years of college prep math, her path at age 25 to an engineering degree would have been much more problematic. She had a good career as an engineer.

My intense dislike of the Junior Literary Critic role that English classes imposed on me result in my turning close to rabid when any mention of English classes turn up.

Texan99 said...

I read that Narnia book with skepticism and found myself at least less skeptical than when I began. That kind of theory always seems to go too far, doesn't it? And yet there's no question at all that Lewis was captivated by the ancient association of the primary orbs with human characteristics, as the procession of oyarsas in "That Hideous Strength" made so clear. He MIGHT have had that schema in mind in structuring the Narnia stories. He loved to find echoes of old myths in revealed Christian truth. Some of the argument had a tea-leaf-reading quality, though, especially since Lewis didn't often play footsie with his themes. He tended to trumpet them.

I remember that 2013 discussion about teaching math. I'm still not convinced the pedagogical choice is between building on a path vs. creating a habit of mind. Maybe the habit of mind required for math is too much like building on a path: learning the rigor of logical progression. Whether the field of math in question is consumer-oriented probability and statistics or egghead-oriented abstract analytics like analytical trigonometry, calculus, or the many levels above them that I never studied, there are almost always tools or building blocks that must be mastered before the new field can become useful. There's an irreducible if-then quality to math than you don't find in literature, which (while not logic-free) has more to do with feelings, associations, traditions, and culture.

james said...

FWIW, math can spread into different directions long before you hit calculus. was partly intended to widen the options for youth. It turns out some of the titles demand prerequisites, but "continued fractions" and "graph theory", heck even "groups and their graphs" are accessible to high school students. I wonder how many sophomores would find "knot theory" appealing. Just a smidgeon of algebra will get you through: the abstraction of giving unknowns names and manipulating the names and numbers according to the rules.