Monday, April 27, 2009

Discrete Math Track

Quoting from a blogger at the 2009 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference, regarding Web technology in math teaching:
What is Web 2.0? Is Twitter a useful tool? What are some good ways to learn how to use these tools? Where can we find good examples of how to use them in teaching math? We agreed that confusion still reigns about what this term means and whether these tools can help create a tipping point towards a new paradigm of learning and teaching where collaboration, creativity, and publishing are the cornerstones. So are we ready for Web 2.0 in math education? I'm not sure.
We've had some good discussions about a new paradigm on math-teach of late. Shall we encourage students to make Youtubes about math topics? Schools seem to differ on this, while YouTube fills with a rich store of examples, as do some school intranets (those lucky enough to have them).

Equity is a key word in Arne Duncan's talk (he's the new Secretary of Education).
I’m encouraged by the way Duncan returns again and again to equity. He stresses the importance of education in lifting children out of poverty, and paraphrases Bob Moses in calling education the civil rights issue of our time. [link added]
The call for merit pay is consistent with President Obama's remarks before the National Academy of Sciences recently (thanks to Anna Roys for sending me the heads up):
I am challenging states to dramatically improve achievement in math and science by raising standards, modernizing science labs, upgrading curriculum, and forging partnerships to improve the use of science and technology in our classrooms. And I am challenging states to enhance teacher preparation and training, and to attract new and qualified math and science teachers to better engage students and reinvigorate these subjects in our schools.

In this endeavor, and others, we will work to support inventive approaches. Let's create systems that retain and reward effective teachers, and let's create new pathways for experienced professionals to enter the classroom. There are, right now, chemists who could teach chemistry; physicists who could teach physics; statisticians who could teach mathematics. But we need to create a way to bring the expertise and the enthusiasm of these folks – folks like you – into the classroom.
A problem in giving high school math teachers better computer skills via in-service training (paid for by the public) is they then use these new abilities to escape into private industry.

Whereas private industry might make use of their talents, let's keep it a revolving door, with schools providing attractive opportunities to already skilled IT and/or GIS people, other engineers, wanting to transition into teaching gnu math for example.

We need our trainings to work in both directions, with an emphasis on feeding the schools, given the unmet needs of Global U students. For example, those with a military background might avail of a new GI Bill to receive the necessary certifications.