Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Doors and windows left unopened...

Many many loose ends...

1. The poll in the sidebar is still ongoing. Have you voted yet? It is Super Tuesday after Super Sunday after all! Jonathan suggested I submit the link to this poll to the Carnival of Education. I will consider that as well as the upcoming Carnival of Mathematics on 2-8-08 over at 360.

2. The poll has generated some interesting comments on this blog and elsewhere. Some readers and highly knowledgeable individuals are offended by the implication that the poll is somehow suggesting that teachers must teach a particular way and students must learn a particular way. I do feel there is a fairly wide range of options from extreme traditional to extreme reform, but others may see it as more biased. Similarly, some are bristling at the implication of Standards. I won't get into an exposition of my views at this point but I will share my wife's insights. She cuts through all the b******* -- that's her style. When I told her that some are having a problem with the poll, because it seems to suggest restricting what or how children should learn, she looked at me incredulously and stated:
"First of all, you're surprised someone is offended by a position you're taking! I'm not an educator, but, why do all of you make things so complicated. Who decided that the way we learned was broken and needs to be fixed? I see it like this -- Children should learn the traditional method, then when they can do that, they can be shown other ways. If they like another way better, they can decide for themselves but only after they know one method well."

She then added the following: "Perhaps those who are upset about children and educators being 'boxed in', fail to recognize that leaving everything open-ended is just another box." My wife has always seen things differently - I guess she thinks outside the box! She also added that if her position offends anyone and she gets attacked, she can handle that. After all, it's not her blog!

3. Anyone notice there is a new Mystery Mathematician in the sidebar. Daniel Gorenstein has now been replaced by another contemporary mathematician. Sorry, no hints at this point, other than to say that he has had a profound influence on myself and many students of undergraduate mathematics.

4. Ok, so anyone can prove that they made some prediction about the Super Bowl that sorta kinda turned out to be true. I suggested a couple of days ago that perhaps the number 8 would play a role in the game. Since I'm a 'digit-man', I'll let you scoff at the fact that the number 17 played a key role in the final score and Plaxico's uniform. Well, what do the digits of 17 add up to? Yes, we all know how fortune tellers make their predictions! Here's a little more coincidence:

Last night, as the Giants were disembarking from their plane at Newark's Liberty International Airport and boarding their team bus, my son was disembarking from his flight at the same terminal at approximately the same time and getting on his team bus going back to his high school after a competition. So what, you ask? Uh, well, my son's name is the same as some MVP quarterback. Alright, we all know how common that name is...

5. Many other loose ends from 'boring a hole in a sphere' to clock problems, but I'll stop here. Good morning and g'day!

4 comments:

kevincp said...

Mystery mathematician: I N Herstein. I used his unsurpassed text, "Topics in Algebra" as an undergrad in the 60's. A curiosity I came across when browsing his name today was his acute use of logic to demonstrate the superiority of the latke over the hamantash as quoted in R.F Cernea's "The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate". The final line of the "proof" is: "Has anyone here ever seen anyone eating a hamantash with sour cream? Q.E.D."

Dave Marain said...

kevin--
My fault here - I should have reminded everyone not to submit the name of the mathematician in a comment! In the past I've usually reminded readers to email me directly so that others would have a chance to submit their answers.

However, you nailed it. Congratulations! Great anecdote too - sort of the 'proof is in the pudding!'

I will have a bit more to say about Herstein when I officially announce the winner in a separate post. Does seem rather anticlimactic though...
By the way, have you voted yet? I can't miss the opportunity to ask!

Hypatia said...

Educator or not, I have to agree with your wife. She makes perfect sense to me.

Dave Marain said...

Hypatia (Luv that name!).
I just read that to my wife and she told me that she had expected to be battered - what a pleasant surprise!
Perhaps we do need a woman in charge!