Tuesday, October 04, 2016

STEM for All Seasons

One might think Barbara Oakley, author of the linked article [1], would've hit on the strategy of reading in STEM subjects in Russian, unifying and consolidated her skills in that manner.  I used Russian pamphlets on the Calculus, in translation, when a calculus teacher at St. Dominic Academy.  I was a pretty good calculus teacher.

Her critique echoes Scott Gray's of Making Math, co-founder of Useractive which later morphed into O'Reilly School (of Technology).  One needs to learn by doing, meaning practice makes perfect, whereas just watching videos (Youtubes) leads to a more vicarious understanding.

"Conceptual understanding" may prove paper thin, too fragile, when stressed by the "real world".  At the school, we emphasized "hands on" intensely, to the exclusion of any video from the curriculum proper, though as mentors we were free to cite useful Youtubes for background viewing.

I'm glad to see the infamous Forum 206 at the Math Forum has come back to life.  That listserv is really a vehicle for the NCTM (a US-based entity) so I'm refraining from jumping back in — unless and until I have some official role with said entity.

The UK has something similar, founded by Caleb Gattegno.

[1] How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math (Nautilus Quarterly / Culture Psychology, September 15, 2016)