Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Regarding Lockhart's Lament

[ Here's a link to Paul Lockhart's 2002 essay via Keith Devilin's page at the MAA ]

Definitely a well written essay that makes the author's views clear. Much to agree with, about the current math curriculum being corrupt and close to useless waste of time, a complete rip off.

However, with art, music, language and everything else, students have a legitimate concern that they get interesting careers that keep them gainful, and yakking up the sheer back of the napkin fun of free math play, doesn't speak to that question. College affordability a real issue today so let's not forget the pressure on high schools to provide staffing directly, distance ed for the college credential only after a first position, so some skills already relevant (so what did math give you, any programming?).

That's why in Silicon Forest, this essay gets passed around more to get the wolves salivating, as we see fair game, a wounded member of the herd (math curriculum) that's a nightmare to kids (a form of abuse then, criminal, ready to be taken out).

But what we replace it all with won't be just about triangles on napkins. Operating heavy equipment, building railroads, using object oriented math, is still important, neither "approximate" nor "ugly" (his "leave that to the scientists" attitude is just not appropriate unless you're freakishly overspecialized -- as this guy clearly is).

Sort of a John Taylor Gatto type, this Lockhart gentleman.

Anyway, fair warning that change is under way in our thinking-ahead schools. Status quo momentum: nothing to do about it, except watch things unfold.

[first posted to math-thinking-l]