Good Book Burning and Bad Book Burning

The whole of Australia is pissed right now, with a Sydney council that decided to ban books on same sex parenting. Fine. But when librarians team up with a frickin’ Aboriginal clown to burn books somehow everybody cheers.

Evidently, some book burners are more equal than others. Continue reading “Good Book Burning and Bad Book Burning”

A Secondary School From the 1970s

Obviously, “school behaviour” is being very much discussed these days, and I recently posted on the absurdity of the idea that a “behaviour curriculum” might be a meaningful way to address this. Pondering while writing the post, and then pondering the many very interesting comments in response, I’ve thought some about my own school education in the 60 and 70s, and the culture of my schools at the time. My primary school education, at the local Macleod State School, was in the main pretty traditional, which was both bad and, mostly, good. There were no straps although in the early years there were still “rulers” and some other needlessly authoritarian impulses, but mostly it was sensible and meaningful, disciplined in the good sense, and human; I have written a little about Macleod State, here and here and here. My secondary education, however, was different in important ways. By the 70s, the cultural revolution of the time, which I touched upon in this post, had begun to significantly affect schools. So here, for whatever it is worth, is some of my ponderings of that time of change (all with the caveat that these are fifty year old memories). It is simply reminiscing. There may be a moral in there but, if there is, I’m not sure what it is. Continue reading “A Secondary School From the 1970s”

TNDOT 3: The Remainders of the Day

Here’s a third entry in our Teaching New Dogs Old Trigs Tricks series: the first three questions from the 1907 Victorian Matric Algebra exam.* As well as the computational aspects, readers might be interested in contemplating what was expected for the proof parts, as well as how one might fruitfully present such results to students now, a century later.

*) TNDOT 2 is also in the process of being updated. Stay tuned.

Continue reading “TNDOT 3: The Remainders of the Day”

Can a Maths Ed Theory Give Back More Than It Takes?

A year or so ago, a decades-long friend and colleague reappeared. My friend also has a strong interest in maths ed, although she takes the “Let’s all be friends” approach. Readers of this blog know well that I’ve given up on that, but still my friend and I can argue amicably about this and that. In particular, she took some issue with my “all modern maths ed sucks” post. While conceding that most educational research is bad, she was unwilling to write off the discipline entirely and she suggested a few things for me to read. I gave them a semi-decent try, and my response was “meh”. While the stuff she suggested was mostly reasonable, or even good, I felt it was, at best, addressing third order issues. One article, however, has had me pondering a little, and I thought it may be worth sharing.

Continue reading “Can a Maths Ed Theory Give Back More Than It Takes?”

Barry Humphries and the Transience of Comedy

This post is a little overdue, or long overdue, depending on how you look at it. Barry Humphries died in April, and a couple weeks ago there was a State Memorial for Humphries at the Sydney Opera House. I watched a little of the Memorial, but it was wrong and depressing, and I gave up. Humphries was as Melburnian as it gets and a Memorial in Sydney, whatever its other merits, simply made no sense. The Memorial prompted me to begin an overdue post, however, and finally, overoverdue, here it is. Continue reading “Barry Humphries and the Transience of Comedy”

Gaming the Mathematics Exams in 1903

Trying to understand when and how Victorian maths education went so wrong has led us down some pretty obscure rabbit holes. A very helpful guide to this warren is Ken Clements and, in particular, Clements’ interesting and interestingly slanted history of Victorian school mathematics, Mathematics for the Minority. Pictured above is one of the rabbits (so to speak). Continue reading “Gaming the Mathematics Exams in 1903”

Tom’s Posts Are (Lagrange) Multiplying

Tom has a new post on his Teaching Mathematics blog: Lagrange Multipliers – A Historical Approach? Tom riffs off of a (not uncommon) poor 1960’s undergraduate lecture he had, on the method of Lagrange multipliers. Please support Tom’s blog and check it out.

Continue reading “Tom’s Posts Are (Lagrange) Multiplying”