[Edu-sig] thought re graphing calculators ...

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Sep 28 01:56:33 CEST 2009

2009/9/27 Charles Cossé <ccosse at gmail.com>:
> Hi, this has probably been discussed to death already, but maybe not: The
> point at which fancy graphing calculators become "necessary" (ie as in one's
> student career) is the point at which the calculator should be abandoned and
> Python employed.  Just a thought ... delete at will !
> -Charles

Hi Charles --

Yeah, that's not controversial as far as I'm concerned, like duh
(meaning I agree with you 100%, doesn't everyone?).

For the humanities trained, I have this deep level criticism about how
the XYZ coordinate people ala Descartes and so on, failed to think
enough about the point of view, i.e. the camera position.

There's this convention of positive x-axis coordinates going off to
the right, but of course if your camera is on the other side of the
textbook page, so to speak, looking back, then the very same positive
axis is off to your left (unless you're standing on your head,
relative to the starting position).  All this stuff becomes more clear
when you run a ray tracing system and actually need to specify the
camera position.

Then you come to realize that XYZ has a handedness, that both left and
right handed make sense.  Current high school textbooks may make lip
service reference to that fact, but students rarely appreciate
handedness as their spatial geometry abilities are artificially
stunted by the graphing calculator curricula which are disappointingly
and narrow-mindedly flatlander (landlubbery).

This isn't the kind of critique most people have in mind when they
start questioning the hegemony of the graphing calculator empire.  It
resonates more with art historians, design scientist engineers etc.,
looking for ways to point out shortcomings in the current "analog
math" pipeline (easy as shooting ducks in a barrel (sorry for the
violent imagery, diversity panel watching over my shoulder

Here in Oregon, we're working on digital math.  We have Intel, other
companies, who think every school deserves a real math lab with lots
of flatscreens and foss.  It's economically self-serving to think this
way, but then a lot of our students are interested in being gainfully
employed in as silicon foresters, so it's self-serving for them to
agree with us (same economy, duh).


> --
> AsymptopiaSoftware|Software at theLimit
>          http://www.asymptopia.org
> _______________________________________________
> Edu-sig mailing list
> Edu-sig at python.org
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig

More information about the Edu-sig mailing list