[Edu-sig] manifesto

michel paul mpaul213 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 30 19:50:28 CEST 2008

My dept chair finally agreed to let me have an hour to present Python to the
math dept during our staff development day last Friday.  I knew that an hour
wouldn't be enough, so I wrote a manifesto  : )  which is attached.

I instructed my colleagues to install Python and download the manifesto on
their laptops and bring them to my room for the session.  I didn't want to
do it in a lab, as I didn't want them to think of Python as something
remote.  I wanted them to see how easily accessible all this is.  When you
run the manifesto, the first thing that appears is a question asking, "How
many digits of pi would you like to generate today?"  We decided on 1000,
and as the digits were printing I exclaimed, "You've NEVER seen this happen
before, have you?"  That was fun.

Then I had them do some bare bones Shell interactions - 2**10000, etc.

I didn't dwell on Python exclusively - I showed various quotes from the 2020
report a few years ago, the recently released final report from the National
Math Advisory Panel stating that research DOES bear out the usefulness of
programming in math for concept formation, and an opinion piece from the
American Mathematical Society on the importance of open source vs.
proprietary software in mathematical discourse.  I think that helped shift
the discussion to another level - it was clear that I wasn't simply talking
about just another kind of calculator.

It seemed to go very well - during the presentation I felt that my message
was getting across, and they even applauded at the end!  So, slowly, slowly,
slowly, resistance is being overcome.

- Michel Paul

P.S.  The reference to the colored text and "Go Normans!" was kind of an
inside joke.  Black and orange are our school colors, and at the end of all
announcements the principle always says, "Gooooooo Normans!"
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