[Edu-sig] poking some dying logs...

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Oct 5 20:09:09 CEST 2009

On Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 8:11 AM, Daniel Ford <dford at linfield.edu> wrote:
> I met Maria Litvin at SIGCSE 2008 where she gave a very introductory workshop on Python and math based on this book. She is the coach of the high school programming team at Phillips Academy. She introduced me to JavaBat.com and was trying to persuade Nick Parlante and Stuart Reges to translate JavaBat and "Building Java Programs A Back to Basics Approach" respectively into Python. She was very approachable and can be reached via http://www.andover.edu/Academics/Mathematics/Faculty/Pages/MathematicsFaculty.aspx.
> Daniel Ford
> Linfield College

Good hearing from Linfield, thanks for writing.

Our own Chris Brooks waved the Litvins text (paperback copy) at our
planning meeting on Aug 7 of this year, Sherwood High School.  I
attended, with associate Lindsey Walker, from our Portland-based think
tank at Linus Pauling property on SE 40st and Hawthorne
(three-building campus with back parking lot, see Google Earth for
more info).

I've promoted this text a lot in this archive, nudging for a listing
on the official Edu-SIG home page @ Python.org and was gratified to
finally see that change, notified Chris of our Silicon Forest small
victory (one small step for Python, one big step for more programming
in mathematics classrooms).

My own curriculum writing complements the Litvins quite a bit.  I
think we'll want to do more with the Decimal type and extended
precision in general, given the focus on RSA.  I've been spelling out
this program on the Diversity list in more detail, given my interest
in pilots around Southeast Asia, in connection with the upcoming
ap.pycon.  It's the convergent sequence and series stuff that grabs me
the most, along with the chaos stuff more like Gregor was showing us
in the last week or so.

I look forward to continuing to promote the Litvins books as a
valuable resource.  I also like the Sandes one and its work the
PyGame.  We haven't seen a strong VPython text yet, though it has a
strong web presence, thanks in part to my stickworks stuff.  I count
on Turtle Graphics and Turtle Art staying strong, both in 2D and 3D


Planning meeting, Aug 7, 2009 (more in this archive):

Meeting with Chris Brooks @ Bagdad

> -----Original Message-----
> From: edu-sig-bounces+ford=linfield.edu at python.org [mailto:edu-sig-bounces+ford=linfield.edu at python.org] On Behalf Of Edward Cherlin
> Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 11:06 AM
> To: kirby urner
> Cc: edu-sig at python.org
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] poking some dying logs...
> On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 4:36 PM, kirby urner<kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'd like to make another plug for including this title on the edu-sig home page:
>> http://www.skylit.com/mathandpython.html
>> Ian thought it was too much a hybrid of CS and math, not an elegant
>> amalgamation, though I don't have has remarks in front of me at the
>> moment.  Steve was gonna get back to us.  Andre thought he might work
>> it onto the page...
> I like the concept but not the execution. The student doesn't find out
> what properties of various data structures and mathematical objects
> are fundamental. There is too much of the old style of telling
> students what to learn, and neither explaining why nor allowing
> students to discover. I find it annoying that the book gives complex
> number examples, but shies away from actually using complex
> arithmetic. Far more CS could be introduced at the level of the math
> being used.
> The book uses Python, but none of the very capable math software
> available beyond graphing calculators. I prefer Ken Iverson's
> approach, in which he taught how to write programs to do algebraic
> manipulations and symbolic differentiation.
> Does anybody know these authors? Can we engage them in a process to
> improve what they have done?
>                          Maria Litvin
> Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts
>                          Gary Litvin
>                    Skylight Software, Inc.
>> That was all months ago by now, so it make sense to raise the issue
>> again, as the title does break new ground in some ways, has claim to
>> being a math teaching book, yet uses a computer language (one most of
>> us know).
>> 'Concrete Mathematics' and 'The Art of Computer Programming' are both
>> math books of course, amenable to a "through programming" approach.
>> Jsoftware folks implemented the former in J, whereas the latter is in
>> MMX already.
>> Another hot button issue in Portland these days is whether families
>> have the right to demand a PDF version of any assigned textbook,
>> versus a hardcopy edition.  We have lots of tree huggers around here,
>> worried about "green" and unsustainability.  To quote one of my
>> colleagues (from her blog):
>> "We need the text book companies to print thousands of copies of new
>> textbooks every year, not so the authors can make money, though they
>> make a little, but so the companies can make money... Do some central
>> planning, and if the government can't do that without going through
>> corporations, then it is time to [do it ourselves]".
>> Anyway, just wanted to re-raise that as well.
>> I mostly do my computer / technical reading on Safari, have no problem
>> with recycling already printed books, have no problem with small press
>> runs.  But I can see where truck loads of spanking new 400 page math
>> books, hot off the press, none containing any computer programming to
>> speak of, let alone Mites, Sytes or Kites (honeycomb stuff, important
>> to gnu-bees), would provoke a crisis in conscience for our more
>> ethical.
>> This is the kind of thing 15 year olds talk about.  They're suspicious
>> of adults who can't follow their logic (about saving trees),
>> undermines adult authority to not have a response.  So do we all favor
>> an "opt out" option for hard copy textbooks?  Say aye?  Say nay?
>> Kirby
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> --
> Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
> And Children are my nation.
> The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
> http://earthtreasury.org/worknet (Edward Mokurai Cherlin)
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