Playing around with Desmos

I’m taking inspiration from …Yet, a blog put together by a teacher who, like me, appears to enjoy geeking out on Desmos.

I’m weird when it comes to Desmos. I know a lot of teachers are relying on it as an activity tool, but I see it more as a creativity platform.

For example, I know next to nothing about computer programming, but I’ve found that, using just a few simple concepts, I can write graphs in Desmos that do interesting computer-like stuff.

For example:

PacMan on Desmos

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Godzilla vs. Manhattan

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Square Patroller

 

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Speaking of Faith

It’s a weird day, partly because it lives in infamy and partly because I just turned grades in (all compiled at the last second, mind you, just like the students did with their work). Long story short, I’m feeling a little crispy mentally and am not afraid to show it.

Anyway, this reflection is sparked by an article I came across via today’s Twitter Feed: Race in the Classroom: There’s a Manual For That

To be honest, it’s one of those articles that gets you thinking — for a bit — but generally works to get you feeling guilty and one-down as a teacher. It comes via Edutopia, a blog I typically associate higher end linkbait, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Still, I’ll focus on the thinking part while the thinking is still fresh in my mind.

The article is basically a review of H. Richard Milner’s Start Where You Are, But Don’t Stay There. I’ve never read this book, but it seems to revolve around the culturally responsive education theme (for all I know, perhaps Milner minted this theme), and the article, in the course of reviewing the book, gives a basic introduction to stuff you come across in a CRE workshop.

In other words, I’d seen a lot of this stuff before. What got me thinking — or revisiting old thoughts, however, was a brief section on “recognizing cultural conflicts.” Writes article author Jennifer Gonzalez:

Sometimes what teachers perceive as misbehavior is actually the result of a cultural misunderstanding. In many other countries, for example, students are trained to never look a teacher in the eye. When a teacher in a more Eurocentric classroom demands that a student look at her while she’s reprimanding him, and that student resists, she may interpret this as defiance.

Which leads to thoughts of my eighth period Geometry group. Because it’s late and, as noted above, I’m a little punchy, I’ll just flat out say it. Eighth period is my Crazy Class. It’s the one group I have to think about all day when I lesson plan. Thoughts like: How will this idea or activity which worked so smoothly in First and Second Periods hold up when my Eighth Period gets ahold of it.

Every teacher has their Crazy Class. I know this because our common planning discussions generally revolve around the topic and one thing that seems define all Crazy Classes is that they tend to be predominantly mainstream in terms of academic performance (thus missing out on the possibility of having a second, special ed teacher to co-teach and thus co-manage classroom responsibilities. They also tend to come later in the day (6th, 7th and 8th periods), times when the school is full, the hallways are crammed and moods and blood sugar levels radically different than earlier in the day.

Another hallmark is the Crazy Class is that they sometimes surprise you with perfect behavior. You go in expecting the worst and you leave (sometimes) with a hall of fame lesson in terms of enthusiastic participation and work output. In short, while it’s often the students who make it feel crazy and earn its the sobriquet, it’s really  the unpredictability — the weirdness of not knowing which type of class you’re going to encounter when you walk through the door — that makes it hard from a teaching perspective. It basically puts you in the position of wondering whether to scrap a lesson entirely (effectively adding yet another prep to your daily schedule) or to got with what you have (with a few slight alterations) and simply gut it out and hope for the best.

Returning to the cultural conflict theme, my Crazy Class is skewed toward students of color. Sixty percent are black. Thirty percent are hispanic. Ten percent are Arab and one girl, Annika, is white. Behavior issues break down pretty clearly along racial/ethnic/gender lines. The Arab girls cut. The black girls talk. The black boys blow me off until I make a big stink about it. The Caribbean Hispanic students I need to hover over to get them to finish tasks. The Mexican Hispanics do beautiful work but are addicted to their phones. As for the lone white girl, she sits as far from me as she can get without physically leaving the room. It’s a weird mix of personality and pattern behavior in which the only common element appears to be a desire for the hall pass and anything that pushes the current math task off center stage.

Anyway, the girl who stands out the most when I think about article is Faith. She’s black with an African last name. Before I was a teacher that combination wouldn’t have meant much. Now it means a lot. Our student body has a sizable African immigrant population and to risk treading into stereotype, the African students who attend my school are generally regarded in a positive light: They routinely win the perfect attendance awards, crowd the ranks of our pre-professional (and somewhat prestigious) nursing program and generally bring an immigrant intensity to the classroom that puts them on a par with other high achieving immigrant groups. Yes, we have plenty of struggling students and out-and-out miscreants, but even within those groups, you see the attitude that high school is merely a springboard to greater things.

Hidden within this description, I realize, could be a critique of non-African students (of all stripes), but I think it needs to be mentioned up front, because if Faith came into my class with another name — Tamiya Higgs, say — I wouldn’t be half the wiser. Her English is accentless (unlike that of the other African girls in the class) and her general approach to school is, shall we say, along the lines of your general 70- to 80- level student — i.e. the kind who wait until the day before teacher grades come do to ask if there’s anything they can do for extra credit.  In contrast, the three girls who speak with clear accents devote a portion of each class period to reminding me about unlogged homeworks and uncredited assignments.

No, what sets Faith off is when I ask her to be quiet. Starting around Week 5, for various reasons, I lost the routine of getting students to quiet down whenever I needed to speak to the whole class. A tougher teacher would have immediately cracked down, shifting seats and implementing newer better routines. Because I have honors level classes in the morning not to mention a boss who loathes chalk and talk, I instead saw it as an opportunity to fly the “expectations” flag. I decided I would teach in ways that didn’t involve me standing at the front of the room, demanding the attention of the whole group.

For a while, it worked. Then the test scores plummeted. Students started grumbling about how the class made “no sense” and, even though I had plenty of evidence to show that the same methods were working in the shiny new building with the honors students, I also had enough flight time logged with honors classes to know that responsiveness to teacher cues is the primary trait that gets you put into the honor track. With the routine having turned into no routine whatsoever, I needed to move back to the front of the room. That involved coming up with a fresh routine for getting kids quiet which, sad to say, meant backsliding on a few year’s of emotional progress and bringing out my Captain Caveman voice. It also meant repeatedly calling out black students like Faith, who always tended to be the last one talking whenever I was trying to avoid bellowing and play the  “I’m waiting…” game.

Anyway, a fundamental element in CRE discussion is listening to your students, listening not only to what they say but also how their words might provide clues to underlying opportunities for communication. In the course of silently waiting out Faith to finish her conversations, I have had a pretty good opportunity to work on sides of the listening equation. In terms of the actual words coming out of her mouth, they tend to come in the form of protest. Things like 

“Mr Williams, why are you waiting for me? I’m just talking. You can talk, too.”

Or

“Mr. Williams, why are you looking at me? I’m not the only person talking.”

Or

“I’ll stop talking, but you really should just teach.”

Going back to the excerpt about Eurocentric classrooms, such moments are a reminder that the desire for quiet, at least in my mind, translates to “total quiet.” In other words, I don’t want to talk until my voice is the only voice being heard. 

A momentary pause. This desire is not innate. It dates back to my first year in which, whenever my lessons were crapping out, my supervisor, a middle school vet, would essentially come down the hall, come into the room and bawl everybody out (myself indirectly) and then model the way to get a room quiet and back on task. The words coming out of his mouth generally sounded like

“I’m gonna wait here until every last voice is done talking, because this is something you ALL need to know.”

Or

“Some people insist on runnin’ they mouth when they SHOULD be listening, so I’ll just  wait for everybody to give me their FULL attention…”

Or

“I want it so quiet I can hear a mouse peeing on cotton. Until that time, we’re gonna stand here…”

Actually, that last one came from another administrator, a white guy, kind of effeminate and from Staten Island, where the director supervisor was black, butch and a Brooklyn native. The quote sticks out in memory both for the colorful, slightly risky turn of phrase and for the fact that it successfully managed to quiet down a lunch room full of rowdy black sixth graders. No mean feat. A casual observer might note that “stand and wait” was the consistent theme, but in each case, the speaker both requested and received compliance and, to my astonishment, increased engagement as the kids quietly surrendered to instructional authority.

While I didn’t get a permanent posting out of that first year, I did come out with the understanding, when teaching math to a room full a children, getting to quiet was teacher task No. 1. 

Twelve years later, I find myself re-examining this lesson. As hinted at earlier, the honors students tend to quiet down promptly when asked. Then again, even when talking to a room full of honors students, each nodding in comprehension while I speak, I find that rarely do I get higher than a 40 percent success rate on verbal instructions. Heck, even when talking to a room full of adults, saying something as simple as “I need you to go to website X” requires a quick tour around the room to confirm that more than half made it to the intended destination.

It helps, too, that, in addition to a different, more diverse group of students, I also have a different boss, a guy who teaches two periods of AP Calculus and thus knows a few things about honors level students nodding in feigned comprehension. This is where the departmental aversion to chalk-and-talk comes from in the first place. “You might think they’re listening,” he’ll say in post-observation. “Give ’em a quiz tomorrow and see what happens.” One day, I took him up on it. The observed lesson, a whole class lecture in which I’d fired out more than two dozen questions, hitting almost every student in the room, had gone swimmingly and I wanted to prove him wrong.

As predicted, the results were as if I’d never taught the topic at all.

Hence the search for other models: Small groups, big groups, team folders, individual folders. Socratic Seminars, Philosophical Chairs. Gallery Walks and #VNPS — something, anything to raise the level of throughput above that pesky 40 percent throughput barrier.

Which brings us back to Faith. One reason I’m able to listen to Faith — and a possible reason she feels comfortable speaking to me so directly — is that, during that five week stretch when the routine disappeared, I spent a lot of time just swooping in on groups I wasn’t reaching in the main lessons and teaching in a more direct tutor-to-student manner. Granted, the rest of the class took full advantage of the slack time offered — I called it my Teaching While Rome Burned strategy — but Faith, in large part because of her seat’s proximity to my usual starting position at the beginning of each class and because she’s friends with one of the strongest students in the group, was the beneficiary of an above-average number of visits. In five very short weeks, she went from the tall black girl whose name I routinely confused with that of the other tall black girl to the tall black girl who rolls her eyes at my cornier jokes and isn’t afraid to ask a question when her neighbors won’t.

In other words, I’m still debating whether waiting for the room to quiet down is the best approach for Faith or for her classmates for that matter. I’m enough of a traditionalist to see quiet as the medium in which math is properly expressed, but I’m also enough of a modernist to know that chaotic, free-flowing work environments are where the action appears to be happening nowadays. And while I sometimes lament not having the stamina myself to sit through a classic European- (or Asian-) style graduate math lecture, the kind where a professor fills up four chalkboards and barely glances back at the audience, I know my own personal breakthroughs in mathematics have tended to come at moments when I was blocking out all external stimuli, the teacher’s voice included.

So to end this reflection — brought to you, in large part, by the stack of overdue attendance bubble sheets and the procrastination impulse they provide — I do indeed take to heart the notion that cultural conflicts do get in the way of teaching and may be as much in the mind of the educator as in the behavior of the student. Kids talk, and in some cultures kids will talk until somebody forcefully tells them to stop talking or gives them a reason to care about what you’re trying to teach. Faith and I might not have made it to the caring level, but I do note with interest that she was one of three students who requested extra time to come down and finish a recent test and, in the course of doing so, to sit for the post-test tutoring session. Something is happening there that wasn’t happening ten weeks ago. I don’t want to be in denial about the test data which suggests that students might benefit from a more “structured” approach to Geometry, and I certainly don’t want to be the lazy guy afraid to move seats and break up groups just because it’ll add momentary stress to the workday. At the same time, I don’t want to spoil things by rolling back to some “traditional” teaching model just for the sake of peace and quiet.

As it stands, I find myself moving between models, bellowing on some days, listening on others and trying to get a better ear for the type of talk a teacher should be willing to accept even when they themselves are talking.

That time of year

OK, so you might have noticed. I don’t write much on this blog. In fact, I write so infrequently that I had to search “Trench Periscope” on the Internet and sort through the 20 or so military memorabilia ad-sites just to find this website again. In the course of doing so, I stumbled across  an outdated version of this blog where I last posted in 2011 and had to take a 30 minute trip down memory lane. These are the perils of Internet publishing, I suppose.

The weird thing about me not writing is that I love to write.  I mean, I really love to write. Put me in a professional development conference, meeting or break room setting and you’ll probably find me on the computer writing a momentary reflection. Heck, that’s why I started this site. I was doing so much reflecting (and high quality reflecting I might add in a fit of immodesty) that it made no sense to keep it all in a Google Docs journal.

I don’t know why I find it so hard to post. Maybe I feel the pressure to write about school or write about school in a way that builds cred or earns respect or whatever. Maybe Maybe I just don’t want to proofread and know that there’s a strong chance that what I post will be embarrassing.

Anyway, as I tell the kids when they hesitate, “Get over yourself.” So I am using this moment to get over myself. It’s four days before the grades are due which means, I suddenly have the energy and ideas (and the desire to avoid looking at student work) to sustain promiscuous public posting.

So where to start. Just to keep this discrete, I’ll focus on my last lesson of the day. I do a push-in thing for our Freshman Advisory program called Jobs Club. Freshman Advisory is a credit-boosting class designed to keep borderline freshman in the building through 10th period, our last period of the day. As a guy who’s on board with our school’s Community School mission, I get the point of Freshman Advisory but that doesn’t make it any fun to be a part of it. Freshman are annoying in general any time of the day and can be doubly annoying at the end of the day when neither they nor the adults have much desire being in the building. Add in the fact that my services rotate across four classrooms, Ms. C’s on Monday, Mr. S’s on Tuesday, Ms. D’s on Wednesday and Ms. V’s on Friday, and I’m treated like a glorified sub. As soon as they see me coming, a good two or three dip down the local stairwell. Others just sit in the back, doing that semi-catatonic-on-the-phone teenager thing kids do when they know you’ve got absolutely no grading leverage on them. A few will perk up and move to the front, help out with whatever “lesson” I’ve written during the five minutes of non-grading, non-meeting break time I have that day, but even with them, the shelf life is short. I’ve got about 20 minutes (in a 45 minute period of prime time).

Like a lot of my better lessons of late, the idea for this one came out of disaster. On Monday, the first day after Thanksgiving, I rolled into the room like James Braddock, the broken-handed boxer played by Russell Crow in Cinderella Man. At best, I had a do now activity with a vague sense of how to split the students based on the pace of completion. Beyond that, I’ll be honest, I was hoping the small number of students (nine on a roster of 24, if memory serves) might give me the opportunity to do a little one-on-one consultation.

Things went OK for the first ten minutes. I got about four students working on some loaner Chromebooks I brought to the room. When the fifth and final Chromebook turned out to be a dud, however, I decided to let the the fifth finisher just sit and play on her phone. In retrospect, that was the cue that triggered the breakdown.  Another two girls in the back — neither of whom had even given a moments notice to the do now — took it as a signal that the period was open season and started to act up.

Granted, “acting up” at my school might not look like acting up at other schools, but it was enough of a commotion that my deepest inset triggers — planted during an initial hell year of teaching middle school  inBrooklyn — started to kick in. By the time tensions had peaked and ebbed, I’d gotten into a back-and-forth with a 15 year-old girl who had pushed her friend out of the classroom and was using her body to hold the door.

The back and forth went something like this:

Me: Could you please get back in your seat? I’m trying to answer a pretty good question.

Her: I’m not doing anything.

Me: You’re making it hard for me to answer this question.

Her: I’m not doing anything. I’m being quiet. I’m participating.

Me: OK, what’s a resume, then?

Her: Quit coming at me…

Etc.

Pretty trivial stuff, I know, but it was the end of the day and a sixth class and, with barely half a lesson planned out, I’ll admit it, I was more than happy to put on a show rather than de-escalate and get back to teaching. Things were getting a little heated, but, being somewhat experienced, I knew how to keep things below the anger threshold. I was toying with her basically, and, in the end, the main teacher got her to leave the classroom, saving face with a choice parting comment, and take the rest of the day off. Whereas I got to return to a group of now seven students (the friend who was practically fighting to get back into the room decided to retrieve her bag and go with the now exiled torment) and my crippled lesson.

Long story short, I “won” but only in that kind of way that makes me feel immediately stupid and childish for seeing a classroom shutdown as a competition in the first place. When the main teacher returned, she returned to a room in which all kids were engaged, but a pall still hung over the room. In the final five minutes, kids were grumbling about the “boring” nature of the lesson.

“You should make us do games or something,” a girl in the front row suggested.

Another kid even went so far to write it on the chalkboard: “Make this class less boring.”

When the bell finally rang, the kids bolted. Usually, I’m out just as quick, but this time I helped the main teacher gather work folders and other things she uses to maintain a sense of structure on the days when I’m not pushing in. She’s the kind of co-worker who loves to dole out free advice (“and worth every penny,” I can hear my mother’s snarky voice chime in), and given the recent de-escalation services she’d offered, I decided to hear her out for a change.

“We need to find a way to get them more engaged at the start of class,” she said. “A video maybe or an activity. The ones who aren’t engaged will just look for an opportunity to get attention by disrupting the class.”

Again, I felt obligated to listen. I apologized for bringing a half-assed lesson into the room and she, to her credit, stood up for me, noting that it was the students who were out of line, not the teacher.

So, at the end of the day, you had this weird situation where the one class I think about the absolute least was the one class at the front of my mind as I drove my son to wrestling practice, returned home to grade homework and woke up the next morning, whipping up another fresh set of lessons. All throughout the day, the thought of what to hit the kids with when I re-entered Freshman Advisory swirled through my head. Granted, I still had zero prep time to whip it up, but when my brain stews like this, something usually comes up.

What came up was this: I would print out a set of math dollars and give one to each student who got started with the entry task (I personally hate the term “do now” even though that’s what we generally call it at my school) immediately and a second one for finishing the task promptly.

The remaining math dollars I would dole out in proportion to the student’s prior work output. Part of my ongoing effort to make job club, if not the place where students get jobs, a place where students get rewarded for work was to build a spreadsheet “leader board” tracking the students on the fulfillment of weekly tasks. The entry activity basically reminded students of this ranking system and asked students to search out their name, score and task fulfillment record. Students who had six tasks complete received 6 math bucks in compensation. Those with only one received one. Etc.

So far so good, but what to do with the math bucks. In my mind, I wanted something like Monopoly, where kids could buy or rent properties around the room. With no time to prep the room, though, I opted for something even simplerr: Conway’s Game of Life. Kids could buy a square (or multiple squares) on the game board and could watch their holdings grow or die off.

I’ll be honest. I tested the idea only once or twice. I lit up 1 square and promptly watched it go out. I then lit up three consecutive squares and watched it rotate and hold an equilibrium value of three. OK, I figured,  kids would need four or more dollars to buy four or more squares for something interesting to happen. Part of the game management would be coming up with a scheme or narrative that encouraged grouping or partnerships.

That and a brief introductory doc mailed out to the main teachers was literally all the advance planning I could muster on short time. Taking advantage of a larger group (15 students this time) and (to be honest) a better-managed classroom culture, I got almost the entire group off and running on the entry task. Only four or five managed to get their slips filled out in a timely manner, so I used them as guinea pigs and wouldn’t you know…Engagement City. The five kids picked different regions of the Game of Life board to plant their “companies” and as soon as the girl running the computer for me hit the “start” button, two of the five companies vanished. Of the remaining three, two grew in size, giving me the opportunity to pay back initial investments with an extra dollar of two of “profit.”

That there got people’s attention. And while things weren’t a land rush, by the third go around they were acquiring a Wall Street level of intensity in which kids pushed forward, holding out wads of funny money, wanting to “buy more squares.” What’s more, the Wall Street vibe extended to the management side. Eventually, I stopped trying to track what squares belonged to who and just slipped into market maker mode, collecting money and jotting down the student’s name and square count on a post-it and telling the student to walk it over to my computer tech so she could enter in the pattern. I consider it a perfect testament to freshman psychology that, even though I had one or two students try to pinch a fake dollar off my desktop, not a one thought to alter or misrepresent the information on the order ticket.

“Auction closed,” I would should each time the four minute timer went off.

By the end of the period, our top investor had built a 60 block conglomerate  (broken into three major divisions) off an initial 5 block investment. Not a bad return for 35 minutes’ worth of work. As for me, I left the room with a mind racing on how to make square prices more elastic and how to track ownership in the event to “shapes” merged into a single entity.

Not a bad little activity out of five minute’ prep time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Science “Broken?”

Autumn is coming. So many thoughts swirling around a teacher’s head as the freedom of summer careens headlong into the rigid routine of post Labor Day life. It’s not unlike how your dreamstate activity gets crazier and more lucid in the moments before waking.

This morning’s thoughtstream diversion is brought to me by a Daniel Engber thumbsucker on the state of modern science over at Slate. The title, “Is Science Broken?” is a bit of a möbius-like logic puzzle. Engber spend’s at least a third of the article talking about how he deliberately avoids the “b-word” [i.e. “broken”] because doing so lends ammunition to Rush Limbaugh types who wish to frame science as an institution corrupted by money and politics.

At the same time, Engber disagrees with those on the science side who insist that outing of bad methods and flawed scientific research is, in its own way, proof that the community polices itself

“Science is broken, at least by any useful definition of the word,” writes Engber, bluntly. “Self-correction doesn’t always happen, and science journalists mustn’t be afraid to spell that out.”

This article interests me at a number of levels. I was a science/ technology reporter before I became a mathematics teacher. Let me first acknowledge the baseline feelings of envy all journalists go though when seeing another person’s byline instead of yours on the page. As Engber notes, the so-called replication crisis in experimental psychology has given him plenty to write about over the last two years. From a journalistic perspective, it’s a bit like reading a dispatch from the old neighborhood and finding out they built a new grocery store and the buyers are flocking in.

Envy aside, there’s the new job to consider. When I’m not teaching mathematics, you’ll find me teaching Theory of Knowledge, a centerpiece class in the I.B. curriculum. Describing TOK in less than 1,000 words is tricky, but one thing we discuss deeply in that class is the way different areas of knowledge (e.g. Mathematics, the Natural Sciences, History, etc.) have different histories, different internal cultures and, ultimately, different perspectives on what constitutes “reality” in our world. Put another way: Knowledge is a mosaic and trusting one area of knowledge over all others is dangerous.

Kids, interestingly enough, have a hard time with this message. The I.B. program at our school, as it is in most places, is an honors level program, and one thing you quickly learn when dealing with honors students is how much faith they put in the institutions which hand out the honors. Because the quickest route to becoming an honors student in America is to post an upper percentile test score in mathematics or science, students tend to view these disciplines as especially inviolable. Other TOK teachers I talk with in professional development settings report similar concerns: There is a “science bully” aspect that needs to be overcome in teaching the course, one teacher told me. You have to remind them constantly that the students who excel at Art and English might have a better grasp of where things are heading than the students who excel at A.P. Physics.

Before I go into my stock discourse about Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, let me just say that Engber’s article stands out as something I’d love to assign in my TOK class. To me, it illustrates a cultural side of science that gets short shrift — how groups of people, even when aided by something as reliable as the Scientific Method — can still Get It Wrong. A little digging into the history of the discipline shows that getting it wrong is quite often what scientists do best. The list of famously debunked concepts — geocentrism turning lead into gold, objects falling at speeds proportional to their mass, spontaneous generation, absolute space, Lysenkoism, etc.  — are almost as important to the history of science as the breakthroughs, because each enjoyed some form of institutional protection. Hence the need for aggressive debunking.

And yet scientists, perhaps because their training focuses more on mastering the facts and concepts needed to do science as opposed to the overall human nature of science, come across as characters in a professional wrestling match. It is often up to the spectators outside the community — such as Engber — to point out the folding chair about to come crashing down on their head. Yes, we know enough about the way the universe operates to put a man on the moon within a few meters’ accuracy, but we also know that just about every new scientific “finding” comes with convenient counterexamples — the uncle who smoked until age 80,  the beach that still hasn’t succumbed to sea level rise, the species that rebounded from near extinction.

This is an unfair jab, I realize. Were I in Engber’s position, trying to get scientists on the phone or to respond via email for quotation, I know I would be hearing plenty of throat clearing and cautious language, Indeed, the hardest part about covering the sciences as a journalist is getting professional scientists to say anything remotely colorful on the record. Most know, like professional athletes, that in the course of boiling down their work to make it accessible to the average reader, they’ll introduce some intellectual shortcut that will only come to haunt them at a later date. 

Which sets up a final concern which doesn’t find its way into the Engber article and which I could have added to the comments section but which I’ll add here just because I’m trying to over myself when it comes to putting thoughts and ideas in blog post form: Maybe the problem isn’t that science is “broken” so much that science is a continuum. On one end of the continuum you’ve got things that don’t really involve human activity, human thinking or human behavior — the motion of the planets, the atomic structure of matter, the mechanical aspects of genetic information transfer. On the other end you have things that are inextricably tied to messy human factors — consciousness, social inequality, disease, climate change as it stands to impact human society, etc. That science is so effective at predicting outcomes on the one side of the continuum makes it a natural tool for exploring the squishier, more complex problems. Alas, the more “human” the topic of research becomes, the more our own built in human biases start to interfere with the scientific process.

A very TOK concept, if you ask me. Hence the thoughtstream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Post…

I started this blog as a sideways feint while in the process of developing a Word Press account, an account started just so I could respond with a “like” to a recent post by Michael Pershan, “Writing is Allowed to be Hard.” [July, 25, 2017]. This doing-one-technical-thing-to-enable-doing-another-technical-thing phenomenon is known in the technology biz as “yak shaving” and is a common occupational hazard in my life as an easily-distracted math teacher (especially during the summer).

Oh well, at least I got a blog out of it. More to come.