Tuesday, October 05, 2004

More on Education Reform

So I wrote this partial draft of a numeracy course I'd like to see. The language is both familiar and alien, by design. This is how the future creeps up on us, sort of like in Stephen King novels: everything seems quite ordinary and everyday, but off by a tad, and that's unnerving -- the predominant realism adds to the thrill.

Somewhat reassuring to capitalists, I think, will be all the bank talk, all the focus on money. Presumably, if I'm willing to teach children about banking, then I must not be one of those Islamic sharia types (Islamic banks exist though -- isn't Grameen Bank considered Islamic?). I don't shy away from talking about ethics though. Kids need to be warned about scams. Mathematics helps us audit one another. We have the independent means to form judgments, based on figuring.

I'd like to see the final draft cover concepts of interest, mortgage, yield, dividend. These comprise a big slice of modern living.

Euler's pervasive number e comes out as a limit of (1 + 1/n) raised to the nth power, as n increases without limit -- a computation related to compound interest.

Thinking about banking reminds me tensegrity structures: interest is an exponential function, meaning we experience an exponentially strong incentive to bring the debt back to zero or go bankrupt.

Many times, humans have tried to arrange their financial affairs using these exponential anti-debt springs, only to find the stresses become overwhelming. Loans go bad. Banks fail. Sure, maybe it's best to keep rolling those loans over and over (refinancing, using the next credit card or bond issue to pay off the previous debt) but there's a limit to how long one might keep on down this road, if the debt level keeps increasing.

Anyway, banking is just one of the subjects we'll want to phase in. Everyday life is definitely a focus. So relax. Invest with us. Swiss memes in the neighborhood. UrnerBank of Bhutan.

A high tech future is also presumed. We want to prepare kids for object oriented programming, and it helps to start early. Working with older programmers still stuck in a procedural mindset, trying to help them to think OO, is often difficult. You can only do so much paradigm shifting in a life time. True in all fields.

Best we not saddle kids with too many out-worn assumptions, such that they'll expend a lot of capital unlearning half of what we teach them. That's too inefficient. USA OS is about providing relevant education -- just in time learning.