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Ms. Forrell - Very well put. I am another one of those
people who agrees with you. (I notice that we remained
strangely quiet in the "furor" that took place earlier
in the week; now that the topic has been reintroduced,
I thought I would jump in.) 

--- "K. Leigh Hamm Forell" <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> I always enjoy reading your responses, Nic.  I am
> working on my dissertation
> which is heavily reliant on curriculum theory from a
> poststructuralist
> perspective.  The questions you raise closely align
> with those that I think
> are important.  We need to consider where we get our
> ideas about what it
> means to be "educated", the ways in which certain
> curricula lend to the
> maintenance of a status quo, and how we can be
> persistent in exposing the
> covert ideologies embedded in the canon by
> rigorously examining the
> assumptions that undergird the (re)production of any
> particular "standard".
> I am of the opinion that most curricular conventions
> are the result of
> contingent turns in history, and political and
> polemical interests, that
> serve to ensure that the folks who first
> attended/succeeded in college are
> the same ones that do so today.
> 
> K. Leigh Hamm Forell
> ACC
> Student Recruitment Manager
> 610.2 HBC
> 512.223.7695
>  
>  
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance
> Professionals
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nic
> Voge
> Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 12:09 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors
> 
> Thanks, Kathy.
> I think your statement and explanation gets at the
> question of what 
> is mathematics (and thus algebra) and what is its
> value, the answers 
> to which, in turn, undergird discussions of whether
> and how math 
> should be included in a required curriculum. You
> write, "there is a 
> mathematical connection to  everything in the
> world", but I would say 
> it like this, "mathematicians try to/can make
> connections to 
> everything in the physical world with their tools".
> But, this really 
> is not a particularly unique feature of math. Those
> who work with 
> language would seem to do the same. Many 
> sociologists and 
> anthropologists, not to mention philosophers, would
> make the same 
> claim that Devin makes.
> 
> Your construction of Devin's point suggests to me
> that he considers 
> mathematics to be separate from mathematicians and,
> perhaps, part of 
> the physical world. It puts math on a unique footing
> among the 
> disciplines. That special footing itself then 
> becomes a (often 
> tacit) reason to include it in our curricula. But,
> the basis for its 
> privileged status is not often thoughtfully
> considered it seems to 
> me. I believe to answer questions about curricula we
> need to examine 
> our philosophies of education, and to truly consider
> whether 
> mathematics should be included in our educational
> goals we need, at 
> least to some extent, consider philosophy of math.
> What is math? What 
> is its value and effects? What is mathematical
> knowledge? These are 
> existential, moral and epistemological questions.
> 
> I think it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask
> whether algebra 
> should be part of a required curriculum in a
> particular institution 
> at a particular time--and also to propose that it
> should not. At one 
> time oratory had a privileged place in the
> curriculum, and at 
> another, hygiene, at another, comportment. Now,
> oratory is not 
> included at all, and I have heard many instructors
> say that they will 
> not grade down students who do not speak in class
> because these 
> students may be "shy". This suggests to me that
> these instructors 
> consider  learning to speak among a group as an
> optional part of the 
> curriculum. A students develops their competence to
> speak in a group 
> if they are inclined to. Why should algebra be
> necessarily any 
> different? Socrates would be appalled at the
> suggestion that learning 
> to speak publicly is a matter of a student's
> inclination as much as 
> those who now are outraged by the suggestion that
> algebra need not be 
> included in the general education curriculum.  In
> general, I think we 
> educators need to do MORE, not less critical
> examination of the 
> standard curriculum, and any actions that chill such
> inquiry will 
> have negative consequences for our work and--not to
> sound too 
> apocalyptic-- may well lead to our irrelevance, if
> not obsolescence.
> 
> I'd be curious to hear what any curriculum theorists
> out there would 
> have to say about this.
> Nic
> 
> >
> >From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance
> Professionals
> >[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> Kathryn VanWagoner
> >Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 8:14 AM
> >To: [log in to unmask]
> >Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors
> >
> >Sorry, Nic. That was a rather random statement. 
> When I read the first
> >chapter of Keith Devlin's book (below) I was struck
> with the sense that
> >there is a mathematical connection to everything in
> the world, keeping
> >in mind that "mathematics" does not equal
> "algebra."  That's where that
> >comment came from.  Again, I recommend at least
> Chapter One of Keith's
> >book. 
> >
> >Which brings us back to Teresa's original question.
>  There are some
> >very cool mathematical ideas that are great for
> liberal arts majors to
> >study.  (Personally, I'd like to see everyone take
> that kind of class.)
> >Yes, Teresa, we offer such a course.  However, it
> does have a
> >pre-requisite of intermediate algebra.
> >
> >Kathy
> >
> >>>>  "Nic Voge" <[log in to unmask]>
> 1/8/2007 4:35 PM >>>
> >Kathy,
> >What do you mean by "In truth, it's all
> mathematical"?
> >Thanks,
> >Nic
> >
> >>By the way.  I love art, music, poetry, even
> sentence diagraming
> >(it's
> >>kind of mathematical). I even enjoy archeology and
> physical science
> >in
> >>smaller doses.  It is quite possible that my
> general education
> >provided
> >>the opportunity for me to develop those interests.
> >>
> >>In truth, it's all mathematical.  If you want to
> see how important
> >math
> >>really is, I recommend the PBS series Life by the
> Numbers and/or the
> >>companion book for the series by Keith Devlin. 
> Just read the first
> >>chapter.
> >>
> >>Cheers!
> >>Kathy
> >>
> >>>>>   "Laura Symons" <[log in to unmask]> 1/8/2007
> 11:03 AM >>>
> >>Kathryn's response was so cool! Now here's a
> rationale for taking any
> >>course in the curriculum:
> 
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