Sunday, September 26, 2004

Education Reform

Back in the 1990s, I worked to incite what I called a Math Makeover Campaign. I started with a memo to the NCTM, pointing out that their logo was an octet truss, and this opens into a whole web of curriculum topics.

Fuller had this way of approaching spatial geometry with a simplifying set of concepts. He contextualized a set of related polyhedra within a packed spheres matrix. It's harder to explain than it is to just show.

His driving idea was: if more people were scientifically literate, they'd realize we have the potential to make this a sustainably habitable planet. We'd reach a tipping point when a critical mass of folks understood our option to make it. Failing that, we'd squander our resources in killingry and wreck the planet instead.

So pushing for a math makeover was about more than getting DVD jukeboxes stocked with short math vidclips (imitating Sesame Street's inventory -- thousands of short clips about the letters A-Z and the numbers 1-12). It was about pushing us toward the tipping point, where we'd go for livingry over killingry.

Studying Bucky Fuller gained me access to this whole network of amazing people, some of whom I got to know personally. I'm very grateful to have overlapped with him in this way (and in other ways).

NCTM never wrote back. It did change its logo.

:: old logo ::