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Maths Café


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Benoit Mandelbrot.

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Rebecca_Hanson 01 November 2010 22:21
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That's an absolutely fabulous interview Mary - multiply relevant to this conversation.  I've only watched the first 10 mins so far but I'll be back for more tomorrow.

The link doesn't work (I think its the old http v https bug) but if you cut and paste the web address it works.

To change font size click on the down arrow before the proportional to sign.


 
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PeterGray 02 November 2010 00:05 - Last edited by PeterGray on 02 November 2010 09:08
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=D oh yummy a bite =D

I beg your pardon?
 

So we are agreed about mathematics education PeterGray

You may use my first name, Rebecca. It's quite obvious, I would have thought.


there are many ways of doing it and in order to define what is appropriate it is important to understand the context - ideally both of the recipient and the giver of the advice.

I doubt there are many people who don’t do this automatically.


Are you suggesting that mathematics is just a collection of axioms - abstract and absolute?Immutable, existing in the world and there for individuals to puzzle out?

I have already said that mathematics is both abstract and absolute and I have said why this is the case. Further, mathematics does not consist of axioms; our grasp of mathematics requires axioms.

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PeterGray 02 November 2010 00:08 - Last edited by PeterGray on 02 November 2010 00:41
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Hello MPardoe.

Wouldn't he agree with Rebecca that 'the truth in mathematics education is ethnographic'?

I’m sure that if he did then he could have been a lot less opaque about it.

 

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mary_pardoe 02 November 2010 10:46
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Hi Kathryn

I'm really sorry - my sight's pretty awful so I do understand! The reason that I make the text small is because otherwise, in the past, text that I've written has suddenly become GI-NORMOUS by itself for no obvious reason.

Anyway I'll have a go at keeping the text the normal size and see what happens. If anything odd happens to the text I'll refer the problem to the excellent portal team.

Mary 
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mary_pardoe 02 November 2010 11:03 - Last edited by mary_pardoe on 02 November 2010 11:08
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Hi Peter

'he could have been a lot less opaque about it'

Sorry - what Benoit Mandelbrot wrote (having also said it) in Fractals, Graphics and Mathematics Education isn't opaque when you read the whole chapter.

You can find it here (fourth link as you look down the page): http://www.math.yale.edu/mandelbrot/webbooks/wb_history.html

Mary 
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Rebecca_Hanson 02 November 2010 11:08
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Peter:

Rebecca
there are many ways of doing it and in order to define what is appropriate it is important to understand the context - ideally both of the recipient and the giver of the advice.

Peter
I doubt there are many people who don’t do this automatically.

Rebecca
You think what's taught in our schools in mathematics has been chosen by teachers who are empowered to decide what is best for their students?

I know quite a few schools where that used to happen, pre-1990ish.  I know a few schools now where teachers feel able to do that to a certain extent some of the time but feel scared of external systems such as Ofsted, the first national curriculum and the strategy have prevented this happening.

But more than that I know plenty of teachers who gave up making curricular decisions for themselves long ago.  Who openly admit that they don't think outside the box any more - they have learned not to.  They just firefight.  And I understand why they feel that way.  But it's not right that they should.  It's just that when what you do is obliterated again and again by top down dictation without anyone stopping to understand what's there, to listen to you, to either adjust their strategies accordingly or to explain to you why in the grand scheme of things the intervention is correct and they will be around to ensure the damage it does is repaired, when that happens again and again eventually you learn not to make your own decisions.  You learn just to firefight.

I am delighted you feel that nearly all teachers naturally adjust mathematics teaching and curricula to their cohorts Peter.  This must be a nice reassuring feeling for you.  I wish I had it.  I just seem to meet the few who don't most of the time.
 

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PeterGray 02 November 2010 12:24
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Hello Mary. Thanks for getting back to me.

Sorry - what Benoit Mandelbrot wrote (having also said it) in Fractals, Graphics and Mathematics Education isn't opaque when you read the whole chapter.

It’s not opaque but it’s not about ethnomathematical education. If it were about ethnomathematical education then it is gloriously opaque.

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PeterGray 02 November 2010 12:28 - Last edited by PeterGray on 02 November 2010 17:04
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Hello Rebecca.

You think what's taught in our schools in mathematics has been chosen by teachers who are empowered to decide what is best for their students?

I don’t think that students are taught by lone teachers except in a trivial sense, but by schools and societies each composed of teachers and many other interested parties. If a teacher wishes to reject their colleagues and their society and to determine how and what they teach then good luck to them in finding a nice park somewhere. It worked for Plato.
 

I am delighted you feel that nearly all teachers naturally adjust mathematics teaching and curricula to their cohorts Peter. This must be a nice reassuring feeling for you. I wish I had it. I just seem to meet the few who don't most of the time.

Perhaps if you were specific as to what you feel varies between cohorts that requires drastic reconfigurations of a teacher’s approach then you would not need to rely upon this straw man and we might have a productive discussion. As things stand I rather feel that most people find less significant variation between cohorts than you seem to assume is present and are perfectly capable of adjusting their pitch without the need for anthropological angst.

 


 
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mary_pardoe 02 November 2010 13:46
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Peter, can you explain briefly what you understand by 'ethnomathematical education'? 

If 'ethnography' means 'the branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures' then it seems to me that 'ethnomathematical education' just means 'mathematical education' - since it cannot but occur in a culture. 
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PeterGray 02 November 2010 14:25 - Last edited by PeterGray on 02 November 2010 14:35
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Peter, can you explain briefly what you understand by 'ethnomathematical education'?

With pleasure, Mary. Ethnomathematics is the study of the relationship between discrete cultures and the mathematics that happens within them. Ethnomathematical education, which I believe is to what Rebecca was referring in her unwarranted broadside at Tim:

The truth in mathematics education is ethnographic Tim.

Then relates to the influence of ethnomathematics upon the content and process of mathematical education within discrete cultures of identity or not.
 

Whether we can or should attempt to derive an ought from an is where ethnomathematics is concerned is another matter entirely. I recognise that different societies use postage stamps which differ from those we use in the United Kingdom but I don’t infer from this a moral or educational obligation to attempt to teach English Language classes in a manner which fervidly references the character of a pupil’s ancestry which itself is likely quite alien to the pupil.

It all seems a bit "Clare in the Community" to me.

 

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