20th Century Math

For those of you who have been following my blogs, I apologize for taking so long to get out a new one. I have been working a wonderful new project that i am not yet ready to show you, but I promise to do so very soon.

Meanwhile I had a fascinating afternoon yesterday attending a seminar on SketchUp, what they call the 3D program for everyone. Google just sold it to a company called Trimble, a construction company.This program is for designers what WordPress is for bloggers.

As I watched amazing demo after amazing demo, all I could think about was America’s K-12 math program, indeed our entire educational focus. To put it bluntly, it has nothing to do with the real world jobs of the 21st century. For here were architects, designers, engineers, interior decorators, landscape architects, and more using this program in their daily work to both design and to demonstrate. Here was an amazingly large community of people contributing their ideas and their actual work to other users of the program, developing “plug-ins” to do a variety of tasks SketchUp was not designed for.

Are we teaching our students to use technology, to work with sophisticated programs, to be part of a community of users and developers? Are they learning to create, to explore, to learn from each other? Are we preparing our children with the skills they will need for the 21st century? Are we imagining them working with tools like SketchUp? Or are we preparing them for the jobs and work of the 20th century?

4 thoughts on “20th Century Math”

  1. Are you familiar with Alice (alice.org) or Scratch (scratch.mit.edu)? Both of these do all of the things you mentioned in the last paragraph.

    1. Jim, So good to hear from you. I am not familiar with Alice but I do know Scratch which is being used by one of my friends Sue Cusack of Lesley University with students at an elementary school in East Cambridge very successfully. I also know Mitch Resnick. I think Scratch is a great idea for kids. I have been focusing on spreadsheets which enable students to do some significant programming as well and can be used as a basic math curriculum tool. We have been developing some very exciting new ideas on this that I will try to post next week. Art

      1. I am actually an “apostle” for Alice. It is the BASIC of the 21st century, teaching programming using 3D graphics, sound, keyboard and mouse events, and concurrency all with a graphical environment that makes syntax errors impossible. It was developed by Randy Pausch, who became famous for his Last Lecture.

        I’m not so knowledgeable about Scratch, but I’m currently using a derivative of it: App Inventor 2, which makes programming Android devices unbelievably easy, even for kids! If you’re not familiar with this, check out http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/ and view the Beginner Tutorials associated with the Hour of Code. They are only about 5 minutes each, and you will be astonished at what can be accomplished.

    2. Thanks Jim I will take a look at both. I have long been fascinated with the opportunity graphical programming languages offer and the creativity that kids would be able to express by programming — This is I believe the critical need in education. It is the first 21st century skill and necessary if students are to be engaged.

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