"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A quick commercial

My son works for Wolfram Alpha, an online computation engine which attempts to understand and answer any question asked in plain language, the answer to which is susceptible to computation. One of the side effects of this powerful tool is that astute math students who discover it could use it to simply do their homework for them. This is because WA doesn't just answer questions, but shows you how it computed the answer. The smart math teacher (of smart math students) will take account of that and figure out how to incorporate it in their instruction. Here is Conrad Wolfram, one of the key figures in this project, explaining how computers can be integrated into math instruction to promote higher-order learning. (Sorry, this is a YouTube video, so it cannot be viewed within New Milford High School, for reasons which defy rational explanation.)

I am not a math teacher, and my math instruction ended just short of calculus, but I can appreciate the concept of moving math away from mere calculation toward the analysis and the solution of real-world problems and questions. This is akin to where I would like to see Language Arts education to go--away from the study of literature and mechanistic writing skills such as forming paragraphs and punctuating them, and toward locating and de-coding real-world texts for real world purposes, and synthesizing the material found there with other material, such as what the writer generates into a text with a real audience. You know, like writing a comment on a blog and stuff.

And in any case, I'm way proud of my son and the people he is associated with.

No comments:

Post a Comment