video of me playing three-string guitar. recorded by john martin. studio space, computer, and wi-fi connection by madeline.
Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category
Posted by vlorbik on June 12, 2011
Posted by vlorbik on November 18, 2009
EM versus Lefty Beals (of OILF).
Discipline issues at Mr. D’s.
Movie cliches debunked… in handwriting no less… at Mathspig.
Maria D. on the state of 2.0.
Ed Notes Online’s Math Wars Revisited.
Fanfic cited by J. Inner Swine Somers.
Posted by vlorbik on September 20, 2009
so some newyear’s resolutions
are in order.
“plant a flag” i seem to’ve told myself
last time around so let’s see.
moving in with madeline is all but legal.
it has been for some time but it’s more so now.
this is where i live: southeast columbus.
i’ve been walking up and down
a couple of its streets anyhow
for months… this makes it mine
already in a way few others can claim.
it’s only lately i’ve been
chatting up garage sale hosts
or hanging the guitar on though.
more of this.
obviously keep upgrading the wardrobe.
no need to be in a big hurry about it
(absent some immediate pressing need
for some single outfit or something).
“beware of all enterprises
that require new clothes.”
my dad did an edition of _walden_
but i learned this from ma.
it’s not her fault i went ahead
and edited it down to
“beware all enterprises,
full stop”. that was mine.
(digression you should skip:
cf “simplify, simplify”
which of course *begs*
to be cut…)
anyhow, the real program i’m dancing
around here is to have some doggone
“this is who i am” thing…
to pull myself together
into something tidy enough
to present behind some particular
public “face” that will ID me
in a word or phrase.
this is surprisingly hard to do.
i’m a teacher, obviously
whether i like it or not
(it happens i love it;
i’ve had a great life so far
as i sometimes overlook to say).
which i’ll go ahead and break down.
*human face of the institution
and i love the first two of these
and have all my life; the struggle
is then to accept the need for
the institution and learn to,
yes dammit, love the part of the work
that’s about control.
there was a guy back at dominican
who’d sometimes say of students
“you can’t be their *pal*”
with a sort of withering scorn note
on the “pal”… sounding of some
real bitterness too but at the same
time sort of smacking (for me)
of something he’d *been told*
(by, to finish out this fantasy,
some more experienced teacher
in his early days).
a good deal of the “ed wars”
would seem to be about whether
teachers should long for the
“first learner” vibe…
“i’m quite a bit more experienced
than you folks in some areas, but
we’re here on the same project:
studying math. there’s some rules;
many of them don’t make sense
even to me. life is like that.
let’s try to avoid the rules
to the best of our ability
and see what we can do
just by studying math.”
of course we should. like i said:
the *human* face of the institiution.
this is just common
sense: one is presumptively
pro-student just as one sides
with prisoners, with labor,
with veterans, with the “disabled”,
with the unemployed, and with
victims of sexism, of racism,
of “homophobia”, and of all the
rest of the divide-and-conquer
oppressions that define the
lives of so many.
but still. one stands at a gateway.
of course the point is to see
that *others* actually get *through* it.
now, we can just check people off
on having done certain tasks
held by all the authorities
to be routine.
or we can do the human work
of actually trying to *help*
somebody in some way.
if only by helping them
accept the necessity of the routine
in achieving some greater goal.
i can do that.
this guy stars in a movie
of a book he wrote about
himself teaching a class
of french highschoolers.
nobody should be simultaneously
as good as this guy at so much.
and just the thing for a viewer
obsessed with power-and-control
issues in contemporary classrooms.
(it’s even scarier than i remembered.)
Posted by vlorbik on August 20, 2009
whenever you’re teaching, say,
“intermediate algebra” and talking about,
say, adding fractions… whatever,
sooner or later somebody will say
“my *old* teacher showed me…[this]”,
where [this] is, typically a sketch of,
some very-likely-flat-out-wrong or
other way to go.
and we’ve got, as it were, a new
stumbling block. because, although
it’s easy enough to learn to rein in
one’s initial reaction
(“well, first of all i don’t believe you;
*no* math teacher would’ve told you *that*…
but more to the point, so what?
it obviously hasn’t been working out
for you since you’re still being
“remediated”. maybe *this* time
you’ll take it *seriously*”)…
the student isn’t getting “buy-in”.
because this “new” thing that *you’re*
presenting is *felt by the student*
as an *attack* on the “trusted source”
that they remember as having taught them
*something*… something that will have,
at least, made some sense to them at one time.
so they’ve circled their mental wagons
around their wrong idea hoping to keep
your good idea out as some kind of
*act of faith* (in their trusted source).
or so i conjecture.
i was telling essentially this story
one day in the barracks and was overheard.
“i like the way you put things”
said i-forget-who (a near-stranger)
gladdening my heart and giving me
some confidence that here was,
anyway, some blog fodder.
because we teachers need to talk about
issues like this and i’m just the guy
to jump right in and participate
whenever i can. i’ve *always* felt
this way. i’ve *also* felt that
formalizing such discussions,
say under the heading of
pedagogical content knowlege,
is in vain and a grasping for wind.
because why? because there’ll be
*no* “right answer”… anyway no
right answers of the kind we encounter
in, well, say, adding fractions.
where certain very precise claims like
can be displayed as it were
like a “text of our sermon”,
an anchor to insure that our discussion
never drifts off into mere opinion;
a way to get our *feelings about*
the material off to the side
and compare *our* ideas to
what i’ll go ahead and here call
“the truth” or “the fact of the matter”
or something like that.
nope; it’ll always, like in *most*
academic subjects, be about *words*…
and *opinions* about them…
things that flat-out *don’t have*
“literal meanings” in the sense
that equations do. what’s weird
is that we usually like to pretend
that words *can* and even usually *do*
have strict, this-and-only-this
“meanings” in ordinarly conversational speech.
i was kidding around yesterday
with some funny-when-taken-too-literally prose.
typical math-major stuff, really.
people say “always”, for example,
to mean “sometimes”… and are clearly
understood in their context.
this happens all the time (see?).
along comes a math major who thinks
(or pretends to) that “one non-example
refutes any claim to universality”
and expects (or pretends to) that
*displaying* a counterexample will
cause whoever is making the sweeping assertion
to *modify* their claim rather than,
say, reply with, “oh, you’re being
too literal” or some variant.
“acceptance is the answer to all my problems”.
you’re just being too literal.
well, maybe *you’re* not being literal *enough*.
we keep wanting to be able to say things that
are *true*, as it were universally, and moreover
we keep wanting these things to be *believed*.
but because we’re working with ill-defined concepts
(not mathematical symbols), this is,
strictly speaking, impossible.
there’s *always* (okay, i don’t mean this)
some man-behind-the-curtain “hidden assumptions”
preventing us from settling arguments
in, say, religion and politics:
we *say* we’re talking about *school* classes,
for example, when maybe we’re “really”
talking about *social* classes
(but are prevented by blindspots and taboos
[in this case, by generations of redbaiting]).
math-heads keep noticing this; it annoys the others.
oh, and we saw _revolutionary_road_ a little bit ago.
good picture. but did the cinema really need another
madman mathmajor? couldn’t he have just been a philospher
or something? geez.