Friday, April 18, 2008

Making It Real

Given our gnu math emphasis on databases (a pervasive feature of modern life), moves are afoot to rescue elementary set theory from its currently dumbed-down context, as a mere relic of the ancient New Math.

The concepts of Venn Diagram, subset, intersection and union, belong in the same namespace as Structured Query Language (SQL), rows and columns as records and fields, primary keys and so on.

Every pre-college student should have ample opportunities for hands-on practice with SELECT, UPDATE and so on.

ISETL made some headway, in terms packaging sets for interactive exploration. Python's set, a collection type, is likewise a good starting place, provided your school has escaped from the dark ages, isn't still wallowing in some antediluvian mud hole, a done-for dino.

How does this focus on set theory help counter the Ivory Tower's multi-decade anti-Bucky boycott? We talk about that Other Tomorrow, in which we take our American heritage, our world heritage, somewhat more seriously.

The retro flavor of New Math and the 1960s more generally, now augmented with SQL and the concentric hierarchy (geodesic spheres included), gives us an edge in some circles, especially around Oregon and California I'd hazard.

Dystopia's legions of fear and war mongers deserve competition from buckaneers don't ya think? Support the home team.

Speaking of which, Saturday Academy netted over $90K from that recent fund raising event, yay.

Background Reading:
Re: Teaching Set Theory to kids in Middle School: ideas?
(Math Forum @ Drexel)
From an interview with Bjarne Stroustrup