Friday, December 18, 2009

Recruiting Philosophers

I upgraded my Ubuntu at Lyric, staying with Jackalope but getting all the latest patches. That knocked out my wifi again, eliminating the proprietary device driver. Getting that back required jacking in with a cable.

I'm making appeals to Wittgensteinians for some help with the Martian Math curriculum. People are giving me a hard time for showing off some innovative mathematics that's basic enough to impact classroom teaching. Readers of this blog know what I'm talking about.

There's no hostile takeover planned. What I sometimes call Gnu Math is not about attacking our core beliefs. On the contrary, as William Bennett once explained, it's already like an enemy has invaded, dumbed us all down. Casino Math and related modules aim to preserve our core heritage.

But it's the Martian Math that they're more worried about. Supermarket Math looks very Chamber of Commerce. Fine, we add some SQL, long overdue, fine we talk about web frameworks some, makes sense.

Martian Math takes us into nanotechnology, biotechnology, crystallography, has that high tech look and feel. It's more hexagonal and 60-degree based than rectilinear.

The question on many a teacher's mind is whether it's safe to introduce Martian Math to Earthlings. Will the effects be disruptive, deleterious? Those who've exposed themselves to this material seem to turn out OK. Indeed, many have developed impressive portfolios, gone on to make names for themselves.

So the question in my mind, in contrast, is whether it's safe to leave Earthlings as much in the dark as we do. The question is rhetorical, as I share Bucky's existential commitment to keeping options open where utopia vs. oblivion is concerned.

A strong philosophy department, able to steer teachers clear of their confusions, might lead to peaceful co-existence and more technology jobs for Oregonians.

That's where the Wittgensteinians come in, some of the stronger philosophers out there. They could teach us about language games, about the foundations of mathematics, about giving different "forms of life" their place in the sun.