Vlorbik's Diner

son of owen's cooking show

look over there

Posted by vlorbik on September 21, 2009

1.0 our purpose is understanding.

2.0 our medium is handwriting.
2.1 certain handwritten documents
will be central to our discussion.
2.2 mathematical “code” will be
central to these handwritten documents.

3.0 our “class”—the group
within which we’re working—
is part of a “school”.
3.0.1 this school can (and here will)
be treated as an entity having
goals and strategies and so on
quite apart from those of any
individual human being.
3.0.2 people do this all the time
so it’s no big deal philosophically.
remark: we don’t know—any of us—
what “thinking” is anyway… so
why *not* attribute it to corporate
entities?
3.0.3 we do not of course deny that
humans work within schools and suchlike
systems in service of their *own* needs;
the point is that *no* relationship
between the “desires” of the larger
entity and those of any of the
particular individual humans therein
is here *assumed*. 3.0.3.1 it’s messy.
3.0.3.2 why go into it now?
3.1 the purposes of the school are economic.
3.1.1 they boast of this:
“the center for workforce development”.
3.1.2 the “positive” spin is colleges
as engines-of-social-mobility—
places where students can “step up”
in *social class*.
3.1.2.1 but this topic—social class
in USA—is highly taboo.
3.1.2.2 the problems this creates
cannot be told: we will leave it at
at “vague and other misleading language”.
3.1.2.3 one might, for instance,
aspire to a condition higher than
that of somebody else’s fucking workforce.
3.2 their medium is bits of data.
3.2.1 certain collections of bits
pass for money in our society.
3.2.1.1 the role of handwriting in
what passes for money—
the “paper trail” of checks—
has recently shrunk to almost nothing.
3.2.1.2 troubling, as far as i know,
nobody in the world but me.
3.2.1.2.1 never. 3.2.1.2.2 theless.
3.2.1.3 this probably isn’t coincidence.
3.3 everybody in our class is made to buy…
and to use… an obsolete calculator.
3.4 meanwhile they’ve got the net
on their bloody phone so who are we kidding.

4.0 bits have transformed the world—
anyhow a lot of what we see around here—
one heck of a powerful medium.

5.0 if you wanna learn any math, you’ll
pick up a pencil and *calculate*.

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4 Responses to “look over there”

  1. brazenteacher said

    Wow.

    I don’t have much to offer on a debate in mathematics… but I am good friends with many teachers on the elementary level who do.

    Up until second grade they do fabulously, outrageously,, creative things to improve understanding… TRUE understanding of math and it’s applications. Multiple modes of experimentation, investigation, teamwork etc…It’s beautiful.

    Then they hit third grade it’s like BAM! Worksheets (you know to help pass the tests… much quicker than letting kids learn the tedious “WHY” of Mathematics.) Then they grow up as High School/College students with glazed eyes who seamlessly pass tests with assistance from “Texas Instruments”

    To take a cue from a second grade teacher in one of my schools…
    “High School Teachers should start watching the Kindergarten Teachers. They could learn a few things.”

    Do you have thoughts on this? I think test obsession forced on teachers (thereby on students) in the older grades is creating a society of kids who know “how” and not “why.”

  2. kibrolv said

    i’ve drafted a few replies;
    evidently despite some recent progress
    i’m still prone to slip rapidly into rantage
    when considering bigpicture education issues.

    i myself personally am at least flirting
    with daycare as an employment opportunity.
    i’ve had very little contact with children
    since moving to columbus many years ago
    and have been feeling the lack in recent years.

    so i think K has much to teach 12.
    but i don’t think there’s much chance
    of ’em *listening*; the machine doesn’t
    want or reward people asking why for example.
    (but there *are* reasons… “conspiracy theory”…)

    meanwhile.
    “test obsession” doesn’t look like a very useful
    counter-slogan to me. professional bias i imagine:
    standardized tests have been *good* to me.
    anyhow, they look like a necessary part of
    anything worth calling “school” in discussions
    like this. (that doesn’t make ’em *good* of course.)

    but it’s sort of like The War.
    if “we” stop making weapons–
    and making sure they’re *used*!–
    USA goes broke even faster.
    nobody wants to close the
    defense plants in their *own*
    community… first thing you know
    we’re a military-industrial complex
    just like old ike promised (after
    it had already been delivered alas).

    same thing here: we’ve got all this
    worse-than-useless *product*–
    textbooks and computer wares
    more expensive and harder to use
    every time a development cycle
    comes around, for example…
    that has to be moved (or else a lot
    of people need to find new jobs).

    (and this wouldn’t even be all that much
    of a problem for me personally if
    they didn’t need to get rid of access
    to people *really* knowing how to
    do things to replace ’em with their
    worked-till-we-fixed-it *programs*
    [if we insist on chalk and pencils and
    libraries and suchlike actual 3D tools]).

    now obviously shutting down an industry
    in the interest of the citizenry-at-large
    isn’t on the agenda (as “heathcare”
    proves vividly at this political moment).

    the whole US economy depends,
    not only on waste, but on
    *more* waste, *faster*.

    so the need for *counter* education–
    education by and for an active resistance
    to the party of machine values–
    may never have been greater.

    and this is still rantage.
    calmer than my first drafts though.
    thanks for your kind attention;
    good to see you as always.

  3. brazenteacher said

    Been meaning to reply… but like most teachers I know if the action isn’t taken with a small window of the time… the memory storage is soon filled with another task… 🙂

    Your reply reminded me of a passage from a Deepak Chopra book I put in a journal a few years ago. Can you believe I was motivated enough to unearth it?

    “A wave particle in an unobserved box is simultaneously a wave and a particle, and takes on a shape only once it is observed. At the moment of observation probability collapses into definite form. This is the same idea… only with repeated intention the pattern in the non local mind is more likely to collapse in the direction of your intention and therefore manifest itself into your physical reality.

    This creates the illusion of what is easy and what is difficult, what is possible and what is impossible.

    That’s why if you really want to break out of the mundane, you must learn to think and dream the impossible. Only with repeated thoughts can the impossible be made possible through the intention of the non local mind.”

    Not sure if I’m the only one who’ll follow where I’m going with this… 🙂 I think your sentiments express absolutely what is true about education/ world. Yet I do think there is a place for brazen rejection to an undesireable reality… in order to create a way of living conducive with our survival (aka a world that is not reliant on “more waste faster.”)

    While the majority does not want this yet… as is indicated by the state of the world today… I have to hope (at 4:30 am on a Tuesday) that we (as in citizens of planet earth) are coming around… albeit slowly.)

    ps: You’re in Columbus, Ohio? Nice!

  4. vlorbik said

    @brazen:
    a messed-up world presents plenty
    of opportunities to *make things better*
    and if we keep our vision and our
    actual activities very very local
    there’s *always* hope…

    and, yes, ignoring
    things-as-given
    to the best of our ability
    (within our safety margins)
    is a *darn good trick*.
    the same thing all the time
    just *isn’t art*, is it.

    the world’s majority want
    their land (and water) back;
    they’ll let “us” off the hook
    on the atmosphere since
    it appears to be out of control.

    then there’s the oil and whatnot.
    and, oh yeah, food.
    means of production;
    means of distribution.
    meanwhile they want
    the war machine to quit.

    and free beer.

    the american majority doesn’t want
    to think about this (or much of
    anything else but their consentual
    mass hallucinations or the conditions
    of their oppression).

    other than the free beer i mean.

    or so i conjecture (in each case).
    what do i know. look at these
    cool new *zines*!

    still @brazen:
    you’re, what, up by the lake somewhere?

    @me:

    http://www.teachforever.com/2009/09/fantasy-sports-and-math-news-update.html
    archimedes drew in the sand

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