[Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL

Chuck Allison chuck at freshsources.com
Sat Oct 8 19:26:04 CEST 2005

Hello Arthur,

Friday, October 7, 2005, 5:56:09 PM, you wrote:

A> Back to David's point.  There is no denying that there is politics alive in
A> the public schools hurting education.  As a damn good "for example" would be
A> the notion that math and science, according to some vocal segment, needing
A> to be de-emphasized in the interest of gender fairness.  I have heard that
A> in PythonLand as well. Arghhh. Certainly I would not be in a position to be
A> the kind of administrator willing to work with and within *everybody's*
A> sensitivities.

Definitely nonsense. But the current emphasis in the mathematical and
CS societies is to enable that gender towards math and science. I get
articles almost weekly on that subject, and our college would love to
decrease the imbalance. But that is a Big Mystery (why most females
shy away from math and hard science nowadays). Certainly the last
thing we should do is lower the bar in the secondary schools to hide
the imbalance. That's what happened when they wanted students to not
feel so bad about how they do all the way through school - they made it
easier for them to graduate without knowing how to read or count
(stretching the case a little here for emphasis). That is the biggest
thing I notice of incoming freshmen: they think we're going to give
them busy work instead of challenging them to think. They're shocked
we could be so insensitive. When a student in my discrete math course
come up after class one day asking, "What can I do to get a better
grade in this class," I simply said, "Do better." He was crestfallen.
It didn't take long for students to stop asking me if there as going
to be any extra credit. (There idea of "extra credit" is to do busy
work and get an A - mine is I stretch you above and beyond the call of
duty, but those students who survive that are getting A's already).

A> Again, personal frame of reference:

A> I have a sister who can out think me as a mathematician while whistling
A> Dixie.

A data point of one is not very efficacious. For every one of your
sister there seem to be many more on the other end. Wish I knew why
and what to do about it, but then I remind myself that there is thing
called free will that allows people to follow their own bliss.
Mathematicians are not a superior race (although I almost thought so
when I was a math undergraduate :-).

Best regards,

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