[Edu-sig] Going Graphical: Where Python Meets Descartes

Kirby Urner pdx4d@teleport.com
Wed, 09 Feb 2000 22:03:03 -0800

>May I ask at what grade level this lesson is aimed? Or perhaps more
>precisely, what level of programming and math experience?

The intended audience for this content is K-12 math teachers 
(with earlier grade educators listening in mainly to see 
what might be ahead for some of their kids -- and plan 
accordingly).  Then it's up to the teachers themselves to 
decide where, if anywhere, to slot it in (i.e. their own 
adapted versions of the material).

Some self-starter students habitually lurk on my teacher 
trainer channels and snarf content, but for the most part 
I'm not speaking directly to them.  I'm addressing other 
educators and then leaving it up to the workaday front 
liners to figure out if this is curriculum they can use, 
and how.

Given the regimentation imposed by standards and test-based 
curricula, I have few illusions that faculties are at liberty 
to innovate freely, even when the content is exciting and 
relevant (as I think mine is -- like any good salesperson,
I believe in my products).  Plus of course there's the 
perennial hardware hurdle.  Here in Portland, we have some 
math classrooms with computer screen projectors (e.g. 
Winterhaven in the Brooklyn district), but that's still 
a long way from being the norm.

In any case, what I encourage teachers to realize is they 
have with in reach the ways and means to show parents and 
students alike that current standards are obsolete. In other 
words, as those closest to the content, teachers are able 
to band together to collaboratively generate curriculum 
so obviously superior to what's in the standardized tests, 
that they have a chance to get out from under those who 
would legislate from afar.

But in some contexts, that's just an empty pipe dream, 
I realize.  I'm appending a recent related post (to the
AMTE listserv) for context.


PS:  this is likely a longer answer than you needed. Forgive 
me for bouncing off your post, taking the opportunity to 
restate some long term themes...


Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2000 22:35:59 -0800
To: amte@esunix.emporia.edu
From: Kirby Urner <pdx4d@teleport.com>
Subject: Re: One Size Fits All

> = Ralph 
  = Kirby

>	Whether strictly local control of schools would always lead to
>better education than State control is something to argue about.  There
>are some efficiencies of scale to consider, too.  At any rate, we have
>many models, differing from State to State, and that is a good thing.

USAers are very used to nationwide franchise operations, like
McDonalds and KFC.  You could have these largish, well-established
curricula that have a toe-hold in many communities (like Montessori
is available in most cities at least).  This would have the 
advantages of scale, but not make a geographic unit (a state) so 
much a governing factor.  That'd put more curricula at my disposal, 
within a radius of X miles.

This maybe sounds far-fetched, but I think a lot of universities
are chomping at the bit to offer more K-12 content, leveraging
their already considerable expertise.  The break-even point for
such investments usually dictates a wider circulation for their
courseware than just the local public and/or private schools.
Enter distance learning.  But also enter whole philosophies of
education to which faculties feel variously attracted or repulsed.

Consider the Jesuits -- known for providing strong curriculum,
and operative just about everywhere (e.g. Father Mackey in the
Royal Kingdom of Bhutan).  There's no reason the public education 
system couldn't nurture such seed beds of new thinking (without
any specific religious affiliation), the exponents of which would 
travel throughout the USA.  For example, I'd like to see these 
DrScheme people at Rice doing more trainings in our neck of 
the woods (Silicon Forest).  Why aren't my tax dollars at work 
to that end?