Well, for having a blog, I’ve been posting pretty slow here, eh? Actually, I’ve not been lazy, just busy. A LOT of my time is being spent at www.UtahsRepublic.org in exposing the lack of constitution oriented education our children are receiving in the school system. Please go take a look and sign onto the petition.
Someone sent me a link to this NY Times story about how Alice in Wonderland was really a story about math. Who knew?
What a gifted young lady to produce such stunning art. It’s not hard to believe she really has seen heaven.
Glenn Beck reviews the cycle of history for nations, and Bill Maher says stupid people (ex. anyone not believing in evolution) need to have their decisions made for them.
This letter was posted, in August, 2009, to the RACE TO THE TOP comments section of the federal government website. (http://www-users.math.umd.edu/~jnd/RTTTPublicLetter.html)
Underlining is mine. Signatures have been removed to shorten the post. You can view them at the link above. It’s a who’s-who of math professionals.
RACE TO THE TOP AND K-12 MATHEMATICS EDUCATION:
A Letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
If a first grade teacher read at the fifth grade level, we’d be outraged. But what if she had only third or fourth grade mathematics skills and lacked the conceptual understanding needed for teaching mathematics? Unfortunately, this is the reality for all too many licensed K – 8 teachers in this country. According to a recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the current training that prospective K-8 teachers receive in the vast majority of this country’s education schools assures that this appalling situation will continue unchanged.
We agree with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s statement: “… it is hard to teach what you don’t know. When we get to 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, we see a lot of students start to lose interest in math and science … because their teachers don’t know math and science”. For the United States to remain competitive, every part of K-12 mathematics education in this country must be strengthened: curriculum, textbooks, instruction, assessments, and, above all, the preparation and continuing professional development of those who teach mathematics and science, regardless of grade level and the kind of school in which they teach.
Teachers’ mathematical knowledge is particularly important in K-8, since students’ mathematical foundations are built there. The first priority must be rigorous mathematics courses for prospective teachers of elementary and middle school children, followed by state-approved licensing tests that fully assess their knowledge and conceptual understanding of elementary mathematics. We must radically upgrade the mathematical content of their professional development programs as well.
Recommendation 1. The United States Department of Education should fund only those states that present a plan to implement the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel in mathematics courses or programs for prospective or current teachers of mathematics and science in K-8 and on their licensing (certification) tests. The rigorously researched Panel’s 2008 report advises that teacher preparation programs and licensing tests for all K-8 mathematics teachers should fully address the foundational topics in arithmetic (including fractions, decimals, and percents), geometry, measurement, and algebra that are spelled out in the Panel’s report. Middle school teachers should know more than teachers in early grades. Other professions have state licensing requirements, whose purpose is to protect the public from practitioners without entry-level knowledge and skills. Good grades from law school do not exempt aspiring lawyers from having to pass state bar exams. Clearly the education of K-12 students should be considered as important to safeguard as the interests of a lawyer’s clients.
What are needed are serious college mathematics courses. The Massachusetts Department of Education’s guidelines for the mathematical preparation of elementary and special education teachers are a step toward describing the content of such courses. The courses must cover the core material that we should expect teachers to know in order to prepare our children to compete successfully in the world economy and to help their students avoid remedial coursework if and when they enter college.
Recommendation 2. The programs funded by the U.S.D.E. should require instructors of the mathematics courses for aspiring or current K-8 mathematics and science teachers, coaches, and supervisors to hold a Ph.D. in mathematics or a mathematics-dependent field (or at least be closely supervised by someone holding such a degree). All prospective K-8 mathematics and science teachers, coaches, and supervisors should be required to pass a solid test on the core mathematical material (especially arithmetic) for licensing. Mathematics supervisors and coaches should be required to have at least the mathematics qualifications of those they supervise.
Recommendation 3. The U.S.D.E., as part of the provision in Title II of the Higher Education Act, should require each state to report publicly by institution the pass/fail rates for all prospective elementary and special education teachers on a mathematics licensure test as demanding as the 40-item test now required in Massachusetts. This recommendation is fully supported by the report of the National Council on Teacher Quality documenting the inadequate preparation in mathematics of future elementary school teachers in 67 of the 77 colleges/universities surveyed.
Recommendation 4. The states funded by the U.S.D.E. should be required to align the courses in mathematics pedagogy taken by prospective K-5 teachers with the new mathematics coursework, as outlined in Recommendation 1. Current methods courses too often focus only on demonstrating how to teach very low level mathematics content.
Recommendation 5. The U.S.D.E. should fund content-rich professional development programs for current K-8 mathematics and science teachers, coaches, and supervisors, and for elementary and middle school principals. It should not fund professional development programs that do not have a significant arithmetic component.
Close cooperation between teachers in the field, mathematicians having an active interest in K-12 mathematics education, and mathematics educators, together with the active help of government and the business community, can turn our mathematics outcomes around, but time is of the essence.
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2008). No common denominator: The preparation of elementary teachers in mathematics by America’s education schools. NCTQ: Washington, DC: www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/nctq_ttmath_exec_summ_20090208042841.pdf
National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for Success: Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. U.S. Department of Education: Washington, D.C. www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf
We, the undersigned, support this letter: (see link at top)
Ecstasy for the ears.
Last Saturday I was on Red Meat Radio talking about the Utah’s Republic project (www.utahsrepublic.org) which has a goal of restoring constitutional education in Utah. Rather than repeat everything I’ve posted on that site, here’s an audio link if you’d like to hear the radio segment (14 minutes) and then a link to the post on that site. If you’re in Utah, please sign the petition to get on the email list and help effect meaningful changes in the social studies standards of the state.
I like this clever and easy to grasp analogy to the health care system.
I’ve been buried with projects, one of which is getting Mathino ready for purchase as quickly as possible so those of you that want it for Christmas can get it. It’s really a fantastic game (since I didn’t create it I can say that :)).
There’s been a bit of stuff lately that has come out, some more important than others and where my time is short I will just summarize the highlights and give you links to the information.
In this classic “news” report by The Onion, just substitute “reform” for “Montessori” and “math” for “dentisty” and you’ll get a good laugh over the insanity of constructivism.
A couple weeks ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new report on educational innovations in each state entitled “Leaders and Laggards”. Not many states faired well, but Utah was near the bottom of the heap with poor school management, staffing (removing ineffective teachers), pipeline to postsecondary, and technology. We did get an ‘A’ for data and a ‘B’ for finance, but overall a ‘D’ rating.
NCTQ report recommends Colorado adopt Singapore Math
Achtung! Prosecutor says only jail deters homeschooling
Years ago when I was in a religious institute class at Utah State, one of the great teachers I had shared with the class the concepts behind something called gematria, which is a system of examining the meaning behind the language of words and numbers in the Hebrew language. In a conversation with this teacher he told me to get a copy of the out-of-print book “Roots of the Bible” by Friedrich Weinreb and he gave me a reference to a man who was translating other of Weinreb’s works into English. I called this individual and he had one spare copy he sold me. For the last 15 years I’ve waited knowing someday I’d read the book and I finally felt the time was right recently and dove in. Here’s a smattering of what I’ve learned.
The Bible absolutely proves the existence of a God beyond all doubt. No mortal could have come up with a system so complex and amazing as that of the Hebrew language and assigned words numeric value that tell such an intricate story behind the scenes. A full treatise on the book isn’t possible, nor can I do it justice in a few paragraphs, but I will share a few highlights.
To begin, the Hebrew language consists of 22 consonants which all have meaning. The structure of a word that has different vowels but the same consonants as another word, changes the image, but not the core structure of the word. It is this structure that tells all.
The number 1, represented by the first letter in the alphabet “aleph” represents God, the unity of all things. The number 2, “beth,” represents the duality as the 1 creates something opposite himself. When the 2 multiplies into further life, the next extension, it becomes a 4, so the natural progression of things created is 1-2-4.
It is shown by the author over and over that in the creation, things go from 1-4, or from God’s perfect world, into something created which in turn creates on it’s own and thus became “as the God’s” knowing good and evil.
This amazing structure is seen in many ways. One set of this proportion is shown not just in language, but in relative proportions. “The tree of life” has a structural value of 233 when the values of the words are added together. “The tree of *the* knowledge of good and evil” has a value of 932. Comparing these values we see a 1 to 4 ratio. The word “the” which I’ve denoted does not appear in the King James Version of the Bible, but Weinreb says it does exist in the source material he has and points out that without the “the” in the phrase, it would change the value of the structure and thus alter the meaning of the language. This insertion gives a different flavor to the name and function of the tree.
Putting this into symbolic terms, the tree of life represents God while the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents the multiplicity of God’s creations. The author spends considerable time building up to this understanding which is all good preparation and would no doubt be easier to comprehend through his build-up than my shortened explanation, but here are a few highlights which help to make sense of this concept.
The Hebrew word for man is denoted 1-4-40. Truth is 1-40-400 showing similar proportions to man. Weinreb explains the 40 and 400 are simply the 4 in another plane. Now this gets fascinating as by removing the 1 from man so we just have 4-40, we obtain the structure of the word for blood. Without the 1, or the tree of life, we are blood alone, missing out on the 1. When we drop the 1 from truth, we have 40-400, or the structure of the word for death. Without the tree of life, we experience death which is the ultimate multiplicity of creation shown as the 4 in higher planes. (ie. Ultimate spiritual death).
One more example of how this language is shown in the development of life. Man is 1-2, mother is 1-40. The words for son and daughter are 2-50 and 2-400 respectively, showing that sons and daughters are created (the 2’s) from the origin of man and woman which start with 1’s.
One development of this concept is the Hebrew word for create which has a structure of 2-200-1. Weinreb explains this that when something is created (2) it is then released by it’s creator to achieve all that it can in its sphere of existence and carry itself to the highest point outward from the creator (200), but then it must return to its creator (1) even though it may not have comprehended such a path was planned for it.
The word for “come” is 2-1 showing that a father (1-2) creates and then invites his creation to return to him (2-1). The word “lost” in Hebrew is 1-2-4 meaning the father created something and it failed to come to him and instead became unto itself a duality (lost in the world). These things fascinate me and prove to me the existence of a very high order of language far beyond something that man could create where the very structure of the word gives meaning to the words and to the purpose of life.
There are many examples in the book on a variety of subjects and I will only share one more here pertaining to the name of the Lord. In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we read two accounts of the creation story. In the first chapter, God does everything, while in the second chapter, it changes to “Lord God”. We understand that the first chapter deals with a spiritual creation of the earth and the word for “God” is “Elohim”. In the second chapter, we have the word “Jehovah” being used and the structure for this name is 10-5-6-5. Forgive me for not going into great detail as the author spends considerable time on this name and I cannot say that I understand it well enough to dispense it to you except that the 6 is a “hook” or “joining” word so we see in the name of Jehovah that there is a 10, and then another 10 expressed as a duality of creation or “5 and a 5”. This is what the author says of the name’s proportion:
“All this is henceforth determined by what is expressed in the name of ‘Lord God’. This name is spelled in Hebrew yod-hee-waw-hee. (10-5-6-5) The name is not pronounced that way, because in pronouncing this proportion, or writing it down in the original Hebrew letters, one would create something of eminent force and power which one is not allowed to use for phenomenal proportions. Only in very special circumstances and in a very special place may this name be uttered, according to ancient lore.”
Interestingly, the author points out that knowledge of this name is called “shem” and one who possesses knowledge of this name is called a “baal-shem”. In the LDS religion we regard Shem as Melchizedek, the great high priest to whom the priesthood was named after and we read in scripture that the priesthood was given his name:
“But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his [Jehovah’s] name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.” (D&C 107:4)
If “sacredly fascinating” was a phrase in Hebrew, I would use that word to describe this knowledge.