Month: April 2011

Total 14 Posts

Truth In Advertising

This is my favorite brand of pita chip — no contest. I lose myself for hours staring at the bag. It’s like, “Wait. What? You’re telling me eight is 33% more than six? Bigger bags have more chips?!

Stacy, honey, if you’re gonna play this game, you need to play to win:

2011 May 01: Pwolf submits another entry.

A Phrase I Try To Avoid, Ctd.


I have found that when I pose an interesting, accessible problem, abstract or concrete, the students get completely absorbed and forget themselves, and never ask “when will I use this.”

When students ask that question, nine times out of ten they aren’t really asking that question.

A Phrase I Try To Avoid

I understand what it means. I know it’s code for something that basically everybody understands. But I’m not comfortable with the implication that if the mathematics won’t help you build a deck or make payroll or beat the odds at a card table that it’s “fake-world math” (or, even more unfortunately, “fake math“) and without value. Mathematics, as it’s studied by mathematicians, is challenging and satisfying work that’s accessible to anyone with a pencil, some scratch paper, and a curious mind.

I’m happy to work in this niche, with these “applications of math to the world outside the math classroom.” It’s important that when our students ask if mathematics has any practical or explanatory power in their lived experience that we can answer “yes” without our assigned curriculum undermining us. And if it’s printed on paper, there are a number of ways it’s doing exactly that.

I have some leverage here and I’m happy for the opportunity to help out with this problem. But I’m not confused that it’s the only problem.

Dissent Of The Day: H. Wells Wulsin

H. Wells Wulsin:

I recognize that I am probably not going to persuade you (or most of your readers) on this point. But these kinds of strategies have never been tried before in a math software package, and if they do work, then the developers stand to make a lot of money, and it could help a lot of students. I can’t be sure how effective these strategies would be until they’re tried, but I have a lot of reasons (which I tried to explain in the article) to think that they have the potential to make a big difference. That’s why I’d like to see a publisher or software company invest a few million dollars to produce a really high-quality software product.

I respond in the comments.

Fraser Speirs On The Next Great Zombie Technology

You guessed it:

The installed base is now so massive in schools that, like Internet Explorer 6, they will have a long, slow, lingering death. Too many long-term PFI contracts for schools have “IWB in every classroom” written into the contract for the next 30 years. Too many “increase the use of technology in the classroom” development plan checkboxes get ticked simply by screwing a Promethean to the wall and moving on.