Friday, June 03, 2016

Thirsters 2016.6.2

Math through Programming

Given Peter Farrell's experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, it made plenty of sense to invite him to this Portland meetup started by Bob Textor and friends, Bob having been instrumental in getting said Peace Corps off the ground.  As a latecomer to Thirsters, another invitee, I was not close to Bob but his graph of friends has definitely overlapped mine quite a bit.  I'm a friend of the Peace Corps too, continuing our Urner family faith and practice over the years.

Although our family sometimes hosted Peace Corps folks still in the field, maybe coming or going somewhere else, none of us were ever actively enrolled.  My dad was an urban and regional planner by training, an interesting discipline which gained him entre to the inner workings of decision-making around the world.  I was going through the international school curriculum for much of that time, then visiting by myself, or with a new family from Portland, after four years in a fancy university.  My sister would also visit and sometimes we'd overlap.

Peter, in town for Pycon, brought along his Math through Programming book.  Like me, but with many more years experience at it, Peter is a classroom math teacher, as well as a private tutor.  I was full time with a private secondary school for two years, a great job I performed at well, however I was eager for wider experience and peeled off after that.

I've been in classrooms as a "gig meister" off and on ever since, and the O'Reilly job was very much full time, but not in "meat space" as it were, or rather the people around me, in the museum coffee shop, were not my students.  My students were in coffee shops or offices or work / study spaces of their own, who knows where (sometimes I'd come to know, as we exchanged communications).

For example, one of my students was in Afghanistan or maybe in Kyrgyzstan by then, which brings me back to the Thirsters, as Maria Beebe was eager to obtain Peter's content, both for her own family, and for the computer centers they'd set up throughout Afghanistan as well, with assistance from USAID.  Iranian contractors were also offering some competing free services, and I'm sure some opted to go with theirs instead, or with both, hard to know.

The more general topic was whether the three Rs (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic) were overdue for replacement by the "three Cs" (Comprehending, Critiquing and Computing).  That's jargon I was using around Pycon, where we held another eduSummit.  Lots of changes are in the wind these days, what with the Microbit going out and so on.  I'm not saying we're in the concluding chapter of something.  The threads are ongoing.

Peter and I met and parted near Lloyd Center.  In just a couple days he's pretty much mastered the basics of Portland's transport system.  The opening keynote by Brandon was place-based, good at sharing some of the timeline, the history of the Lloyd District.  I was impressed that the PSF had really done some serious homework, which paid off in terms of Pycon being so well organized.

The sprints are continuing as I write this.  I'm back out on the pavement though, knocking on doors, shaking hands (figuratively speaking for the most part as all job and gig seeking seems to be Web based). 4D Solutions has always had a way of drumming up clients, usually by word of mouth.