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Wednesday, June 18

  1. page Dan Showalter edited Daniel Showalter (937)594-2923 1aslanseyes@gmail.com I realized I never actually set up a page…
    Daniel Showalter
    (937)594-2923
    1aslanseyes@gmail.com
    I realized I never actually set up a page on this wikispace, but I would assume that we're all in this (to varying degrees) for the long haul rather than just a quarter, so it's probably worth it for me to go ahead and do it now.
    ...
    I grew up in Bellefontaine until the age of 8, and then moved to West Liberty (an adjacent town). West Liberty is a town of only 2,000, but it is still engraved in my memory as a sort of metropolis, because I was a country kid. I grew up a mile outside of the town limits which may not seem far, but it was enough to isolate me from all the social ongoings of the town kids. Our property included a section of forest, which is where I spent most of my free time - building forts, damming the creek to make a swimming hole, blazing trails, etc. Our property was surrounded by farms, and I helped bail in the summers, but I wouldn't consider my rural childhood exposure an agricultural one.
    Twenties
    ...
    Petersburg, Russia).
    Ohio University
    I was intrigued by some of the work with rural areas going on at OU when I applied, but only in the peripheral. My main intent was to dive into mathematics and become a math teacher (or professor) who would be adept at making mathematics relevant to the students in one way or another. I was also searching for ways to focus on the wellbeing of students beyond their academic "progress" because that had been my experience while travelling. Bob (Klein) was my master's advisor and, being involved in several rural projects himself, introduced me to some rural topics as well as rural academie (namely the Howleys and Jerry Johnson). With the Howleys, I spent a summer working with interview data from a 7-site study on place-based mathematics education. With Jerry, I did statistical work for a couple projects involving rural policy. I could talk more extensively about these projects, as well as the ones that followed, but that might defeat the purpose of an intro page. Suffice it to say, rural is now near the top of my academic endeavors and is the thread that links together most of my professional work from the past couple years. I continue to wrestle with how exactly to handle my views and interests in rural efforts, but it is a productive tension. I am always up for a good conversation on the subject!
    (view changes)
    7:13 am

Friday, November 11

  1. msg Skovsmose Reflection message posted Skovsmose Reflection Skovsmose, O. (2010). Mathematics: A critical rationality? Philosophy of Mathematics Education Jo…
    Skovsmose Reflection
    Skovsmose, O. (2010). Mathematics: A critical rationality? Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal (25). Retrieved from http://people.exeter.ac.uk/PErnest/ pome25/Ole%20Skovsmose%20%20Mathematics%20A%20Critical%20Rationality.doc

    Mathematics has no nature that ensures that applications of mathematics will be for the sake of everybody. (pp. 9-10)

    In high school (ca. 1964) we still heard that “technology” was a lesser manifestation of both mathematics and science. It was lesser aesthetically, ethically, and intellectually. The adults of that time weren’t, I think, being sentimental in the 19th fashion; they learned this lesson, variously, from Einstein and Teller and Fermi and Oppenheimer. The disciplines themselves were distinguishable from their applications, and they had, we heard, a more noble mission, purpose, and perhaps destiny.

    Perhaps, at that time, comprehensive liberalism together with a belief in social (as opposed to economic) commitments prevailed jointly, somewhat and in such a way that schooling encouraged the emergent elite and their teachers to credit the idea that math and science applications should be predicted to be good for everyone. Eventually. In some satisfying way. My goodness.

    Surely I agreed then and now, however, with Skovsmose. Why would anyone aware of the machinations of business and industry since about 1500 believe that applications of mathematics by them would benefit everyone? It was never the point, stupid.

    That’s not the troubling bit in the sentence, though: it’s the first part that’s troubling—math has no nature that ensures justice (to put it simply). The earlier prevailing commitments (comprehensive liberalism and social commitments of varied stripes) scaffolded the now questionable belief. The commitments obliged such belief, and hence, lacking such commitments, the same thoughtful elite now agrees that the discipline of mathematics lacks social and ethical force—and perhaps worse, even intellectual force. For if math and science are firmly the possessions of huge firms, then their unfolding will inevitably be led not be a (naïve) devotion to “truth” (What’s that? Everyone and everything has its price in such a regime). It will be a teleology of a far lower order—practicality, profit, surveillance, privilege.

    One of the things I regret in the past 50 years is the disappearance of that earlier faith. Like most manifestations (i.e., applications) of “faith,” of course, this one wasn’t very thoughtful (“critical”). It was, in fact, the sort of common sense that Ernest insists can’t bear scrutiny: the source of deepest meaningfulness. Once we scrutinize it, he says, it loses its grip on us. It sure has. But one can hardly credit “criticality” with this loss! This position attributes a strange influence to quite powerless academics, whose inaction Ernest laments.

    Except that I rather still believe, not actually dependent in my thinking on comprehensive liberalism (certainly not), but to some extent (as so both Skovsmose and Ernest, I presume) on social over economic commitments. On the other hand, and unlike Skovsmose and Ernest, the view of reality embraced by social constructivism seems to me naïve, possibly as an unregenerate structuralist: Actual reality is durable and its structures remain hidden to most observers and actors. It’s our job to find these hidden structures (perhaps as a pattern) and “out” them. One gripped by such beliefs can actually be identified as “conservative,” but that just makes me laugh.

    I’d like to point out that, whereas social constructivists tend to examine social realities with words, the discovery of “hidden structures” is actually a lot more amenable to mathematical discovery—on account of the patterning of life that such structures inevitably produce. Thus, both through want of empirical engagement, and through reluctance to use statistical analysis, critical math educators miss a great deal that they ought to see and make known. The well-monied users of mathematics, the owners of mathematized intellectual property, and the financiers and economists are very easily confused, but in these analyses, separated from mathematics. Mathematics is no more “the problem” than language itself is the problem. Always, it’s the way we engage these things that creates the delicious problems. As Skovmose (p. 15) notes: “Cynical equations are necessary for any cost-benefit analysis and for turning a process of decision-making into a process of calculation.”
    9:13 am

Thursday, November 10

  1. page Dan Showalter edited Daniel Showalter (937)594-2923 1aslanseyes@gmail.com I realized I never actually set up a page …
    Daniel Showalter
    (937)594-2923
    1aslanseyes@gmail.com
    I realized I never actually set up a page on this wikispace, but I would assume that we're all in this (to varying degrees) for the long haul rather than just a quarter, so it's probably worth it for me to go ahead and do it now.
    I'll divide my experiences with rural up into three chunks: Childhood, Twenties, Ohio University
    Childhood
    I grew up in Bellefontaine until the age of 8, and then moved to West Liberty (an adjacent town). West Liberty is a town of only 2,000, but it is still engraved in my memory as a sort of metropolis, because I was a country kid. I grew up a mile outside of the town limits which may not seem far, but it was enough to isolate me from all the social ongoings of the town kids. Our property included a section of forest, which is where I spent most of my free time - building forts, damming the creek to make a swimming hole, blazing trails, etc. Our property was surrounded by farms, and I helped bail in the summers, but I wouldn't consider my rural childhood exposure an agricultural one.
    Twenties
    I spent half of this decade overseas backpacking and teaching. I started off in the cities, simply because those were the places I had heard of, and the public transportation made them easier to navigate without a car. At some point, mostly by coincidence, I started getting out into the countryside more and found it enthralling. In particular, there was a 14-month stead where I drifted from one rural area to another - the tribal lands of India, the mountains of central Nepal, the rice fields of Cambodia, the jungles of Laos and northern Thailand, the raw borderlands of the eastern Tibetan border, Mongolian gurs, a farm in Finland, and a small castle village in Switzerland. Looking back, my trips to the cities were "visits" whereas my rural stays were all "mini-homes" (with the exception of a particularly delightful intentional community I stayed with in St. Petersburg, Russia).
    Ohio University
    I was intrigued by some of the work with rural areas going on at OU when I applied, but only in the peripheral. My main intent was to dive into mathematics and become a math teacher (or professor) who would be adept at making mathematics relevant to the students in one way or another. I was also searching for ways to focus on the wellbeing of students beyond their academic "progress" because that had been my experience while travelling. Bob (Klein) was my master's advisor and, being involved in several rural projects himself, introduced me to some rural topics as well as rural academie (namely the Howleys and Jerry Johnson). With the Howleys, I spent a summer working with interview data from a 7-site study on place-based mathematics education. With Jerry, I did statistical work for a couple projects involving rural policy. I could talk more extensively about these projects, as well as the ones that followed, but that might defeat the purpose of an intro page. Suffice it to say, rural is now near the top of my academic endeavors and is the thread that links together most of my professional work from the past couple years. I continue to wrestle with how exactly to handle my views and interests in rural efforts, but it is a productive tension. I am always up for a good conversation on the subject!
    Dan

    (view changes)
    6:39 am

Wednesday, November 9

  1. msg (also for 11/4, belatedlyThe importance of arguing with Ernest message posted (also for 11/4, belatedlyThe importance of arguing with Ernest Erenst: I would not expect to award higher grades to students who did not display it (“criticality…
    (also for 11/4, belatedlyThe importance of arguing with Ernest
    Erenst: I would not expect to award higher grades to students who did not display it (“criticality”) in their work.

    Ah to hell with these damn “grades.” He’s confessing his sad subjectivity, I presume. Sure--PE wouldn't--but in education at least, which is certainly what one is considering here, the national US organization for the creating of education research ignores the sort of critical project PE argues here: Its official standards for research neither valorize nor even define "critique"! You can check out their standards at: http://www.aera.net/ResearchReportingStandards.htm.
    More particularly, the difficulty with CT, and especially with critical pedagogy, is the failure to see critique as part of the project of proper doubt, which it inevitably (speaking ontologically) is.
    What gives such a reality the relevant persuasiveness is that the sort of 'critique' on offer in the conventional formulations of CT lacks empirical engagement. CME doesn’t produce much in the way of empirical study. The data are skimpy. The moral high-ground (which I appreciate) trumps both empirical effort and the underlying skepticism (aka “doubt”).
    Oddly, PE criticizes the lack of activism among CME folks, living their (our) comfortable academic lives, but all I see is a form of activism, a comparatively weak activism, but valiant and appropriate. Guess what—comparatively weak activism is suitable for scholars. But it’s not enough. (I understand the longing for a better world. Honest.)
    A comprehensive defense of this position would take a long time, because it rests on an ontology that takes materiality as real. Briefly, constructivists, of the sort I like—social constructivists—take material reality as unreal. It’s a novel perspective and refreshing, but the fixation on social interaction as productive of the manifestations we take, or mistake, for “reality” well: that sort of dodginess leads away from both critique and empirical engagement. It’s creative, but not actually productive, and I think this essay illustrates the poing.
    In particular, it explains why PE is so comfortable, even complacent, in his critique of the evil influence of mathematics per se. That is, he lodges all the deserved blame on an object that’s blameworthy mostly on the view that mathematics is what mathematicians (and, let’s be honest, their employers) do. It doesn’t have any sort of independent existense, in the extreme formulation. In this manner, it’s the stuff done as math that comes in for the blame (a weird argument to my ear), and it’s only near the end that consumerism and capitalism come in for brief mention. There’s the material reality in play, forcing its will on mathematics. We know full well that other mathematics exist, have existed, and likely will yet exist. Yes, mathematics is badly used. Yes, critical mathematics education can apparently yield a good living. The misuse comes with the territory, as do the misuses of academe. The thing is, we have the privilege of playing the game differently. And for my money, it’s got to include critique and empirical engagement in the name of such critique.
    One confronts a limited number of choices for fundamental warrant: for instance, the revealed truths of faith (the various stripes of religion); logical consistency (philosophical system, mathematics); materiality--palpable reality. Emprical research is one method of palpating the material of such reality, whether natural or social. It happens to be one that we need to take seriously, since education (I refer to growing intellectually and emotionally, not to schooling) is not principally or, for some of us, even marginally a matter of faith (so one might argue), and it certainly isn't any sort of logical construct, even though many people have seemed to hope that schooling might one day arrive at the one-best way to school everyone...well, nearly everyone, or, that is, everyone who counts! Now there’s a game that far too many academic play, and far too many funding organizations!
    2:19 pm

Thursday, November 3

  1. msg For 11/4/11 message posted For 11/4/11 I just finished reading Skovsmose’s Mathematics: A Critical Rationality? After my struggles with Wi…
    For 11/4/11
    I just finished reading Skovsmose’s Mathematics: A Critical Rationality? After my struggles with Williams last week, I was apprehensive about another philosophical article, but I really enjoyed this one! It got me thinking about the subject that I have been studying for so long in a completely different way. I have never before thought about the connections of mathematics with rationality or the deep connections that mathematics has with our society. Fascinating!

    I saw quite a few names in this article that I recognized from our recent discussions and the one that stood out to me the most was Foucault. I recently read an article by Alecia Youngblood Jackson entitled Fields of Discourse: A Foucauldian Analysis of Schooling in a Rural U.S. Southern Town. In the article, Jackson uses a Foucauldian study of the discourse in a rural Southern town (Garner), to determine the “truths” about Southern rural education. Some of the truths that shape education in Garner are privilege of access, unity of community, and maintenance of tradition (Jackson, 2010).

    The Garner community does everything it can to stay in charge of the local education system and keep Garner schools full of Garner children. Through the enticement of industry to just outside of the Garner area and the restrictions on residential housing development, Garner residents are able to keep the community small and wealthy (Jackson, 2010). Non-Garner residents are able to attend Garner schools through an application process. However in order to even apply to this highly competitive independent school system, the families must be able to afford the $2000 per year tuition. These restrictions are possible through the re-election of Board of Education members who believe in keeping outsiders away from the Garner school system (Jackson 2010).

    In addition to keeping the community small and unified, Garner residents also believe in the maintenance of tradition within their schools. Several of these ongoing traditions include the imbalance of funding to boys and girls sports, which clearly violates Title IX and the ability of the Superintendent to remove pregnant girls from the classroom for required childhood classes (Jackson, 2010).

    Through the emphasis on privilege, community, and tradition, Garner sends a message of exclusivity to outsiders, as well as to some if its own community members, especially females. So finally, my question: Is it possible to maintain community and tradition without being exclusive/elitist?



    Jackson, A. Y. (2010). Fields of discourse: A Foucauldain analysis of schooling in a rural, U.S. southern town. In Jackson, A. Y. & Schafft, K. A. (Eds), Rural education for the twenty-first century (pp.72-92). University Park, PA: The University of Pennsylvania State Press.
    4:51 pm

Saturday, October 29

  1. page Books edited Suggestion 10/29: This page is getting long. Could posters leave the links here, but move the c…

    Suggestion 10/29:
    This page is getting long. Could posters leave the links here, but move the commentary/discussion to a new page for each book or set of articles, where others can add on?
    Just a thought...

    To provide links and reviews to the material we find interesting.
    Hollowing Out The Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America
    (view changes)
  2. page Books edited ... Friday 10/28, after exploring Williams' critique of Modernism, Jeff suggested a return -- info…
    ...
    Friday 10/28, after exploring Williams' critique of Modernism, Jeff suggested a return -- informed now by all this reflection on literature, progress and "the Modern" as metropolitan ideology -- to some math ed. Here is a link to articles from Paul Ernest's online Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal
    issue devoted to Critical Math Education, and dedicated to Danish math educator/researcher Ole Skosmose, who authored one of the pieces. The three I'm suggesting are:
    Paul Ernest introduces Skovsmose's contribution to a politically aware math education;
    **Paul Ernest** The Scope and Limits of Critical Mathematics Education
    **Ole Skovsmose** Mathematics: A Critical Rationality?
    Ubiratan D’Ambrosio Ethnomathematics: A Response to the Changing Role of Mathematics in Society
    ...
    he takes. Also uploaded is Richard Feynman's story about what is and is not teaching science, an old favorite of mine I just came across again. I am
    ...
    talking about with Mike in early September, whichwhere Sizer argued that,
    ...
    More soon.
    {Richard Feynman on education in Brazil.pdf}
    {Crawford2006NewAtlantisShopClass.pdf}

    (view changes)
  3. page Books edited ... issue devoted to Critical Math Education, and dedicated to Danish math educator/researcher Ole…
    ...
    issue devoted to Critical Math Education, and dedicated to Danish math educator/researcher Ole Skosmose, who authored one of the pieces. The three I'm suggesting are:
    Paul Ernest introduces Skovsmose's contribution to a politically aware math education;
    **Paul Ernest** The Scope and Limits of Critical Mathematics Education
    **Ole Skovsmose** Mathematics: A Critical Rationality?
    ;Ubiratan D’Ambrosio Ethnomathematics: A Response to the Changing Role of Mathematics in Society
    I'm also submitting the essay "Shop Class as Soulcraft." The author, Matt Crawford, has fleshed this out into a book, which I recommend (along with Mike Rose's The Mind at Work) but the gist of his argument is in the original, from New Atlantis magazine. Mike in particular will be interested in the position he takes. I am still searching for the Ted Sizer piece I was talking about in early September, which argued that, for public schools, a "common" education should end by 8th grade, and that the concept of high school needs rethinking. I'm pretty sure it's in his book Horace's Compromise, but I no longer own a copy. More soon.
    (view changes)

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