Making Curriculum Pop

OK, so I know most of the present group members have already seen this in an e-mail but I wanted to archive it because I thought it was so interesting.

A Math and Science teacher, Nic, at our school shared the new Wolfram alpha search engine with his mother in law Sue ...she ( wrote this and it was interesting enough to archive here in the discussun forum.


Date: Fri, May 29, 2009 at 10:17 PM

This website proves to me that the mathematically-minded are different from the rest of us. Not knowing where or how to begin, I went to the gallery of visuals and looked at n-grams of "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I didn't really understand what I was seeing, except to the extent that I could see that breaking the words into various types of units yielded interesting patterns. I could probably learn how to do this and would probably even find the results interesting, but it would never OCCUR to me do analyze words in this way! In the book "The Discoverers," Boorstin writes about an 18th century Frenchman with an obsession about numbers and measurement. If he saw a child on a swing, his first impulse would be to measure the arc of the swing under different conditions & then maybe do some study of the angle of the sun and the resulting shadows of the child on the swing. I'd see the same scene & say "How charming" & leave it at that. This site is the product of a mathematical imagination -- and I'm glad to know that there are other ways of viewing the world!


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Replies to This Discussion

I guess the difference, at least to me, is not in the method of thinking but in the reasoning for thinking. I feel that mathematicians (and to some extent philosophers) see all of these events as, for lack of a better term, "problems to be solved." I have discovered that most people don't approach the world this way, and, consequently, they are surprised when others leap into explanations and technical discussions of mundane (in the literal sense) things. The Oulipo really took this to interesting places in the realm of literature. I can't attest to the literary value of their works, but they are really interesting.



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