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Leadership and Activism, Philosophical Meanderings


Bravo – and spot on to Seymour and Alan..

In my ignorance, flavored with kids’ insight and experiences… and my love for mathematics.. i think aloud – boldly…

Is not mathland life?

We live in mathland.

Is that not why we deem PISA so heavily.. our instincts tell us how mathematics is a universal language?

(as i believe all languages are becoming moreso – kids craving more foreign language acquisition as they are becoming more global whether they travel physically or not, ie: frenchland is dispersing as well)

– and yet

Our busy-ness and drive to compete and improve and measure, keeps us from the essence of that universality. We are indeed measuring success per math not per mathematics, not per mathematical thinking. This is such a huge difference. Success is defined, and hence, progress is achieved or more often not achieved, on completely different levels, with completely different values, with completely different results.

In my perception, that is why change hasn’t happened since Dewey and Emerson and all the other greats have written about self-directed, learner-owned learning. We are mentally, emotionally, financially, physically… blinded to that difference. It’s as if it’s so huge and so small all at once. Because the words we choose to talk about a PISA-type success resonate with that instinct toward mathematically thinking, (and yet are indeed rather – math), we succumb to the allure.

And because, so it seems, that will never get us to self-directed ownership, we continue in this perpetual frinzy of searching for the golden key.. the bullet answer.

It seems the answer is.. the answers are everywhere, in everyone. It seems, there is no one answer. Nothing is for everyone. And it seems, most answers are not really answers, most tend to swim in inaccuracy.

If we’re wanting to sustain in life, to thrive in life, the answers, or more accurately, the questions, have got to be found in a person(s).

Papert again – find the curriculum in each child.

So yeah – creating a mathland is certainly helpful.. but i’m wondering.. what if we used less of our resources to create a mathland, and freed up more of our valuable resources, the minds of youth, everywhere, to notice more of the mathland that is life.  [youth = you to whatever degree you decide]

Trusting that learning and mathematical thinking and French are so huge that they will show up, seems to be the first step in the change we seek.

Trusting that if anything is needed, if anything is worthwhile, it will show up.

Trust that.

Notice that.

Let’s take a deep breath and start providing more free spaces, encouraging people to notice more.

We’re thinking we will be blown away by the results.. by the unlikely.

if …

We can endure the very likely bouts of perceived waste/laziness/chaos as we detoxify old patterns of thinking/doing/being.

Currently reading: 

Richard Feynman’s The Meaning of It All, per @RitaJKing ‘s high recommend. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, per The Domino Project‘s recommend.



About monika hardy

a nother way


2 thoughts on “mathland

  1. Monika, I love this and Seymour and Alan too, and I’m adding an additional one to yours…This fabulous Ted Talk by teacher Dan Meyer: which also looks at the problem of American high school math instruction, from a teacher who is doing it everyday.

    So let me come back at you with an another perspective, one that I think at least needs to be considered in light of, as you describe, a beautiful CENTURY AND A HALF of powerful, compelling writing, research and anecdotal evidence that the way we construct learning in school, and the act of teaching, and classrooms, is absolutely killing to human interest in learning and appetite for challenge. That school is designed to make kids passive and compliant and dull and unquestioning. It’s not that we lack insight into what would make kids more alive and engaged and powerful during the time they are in school–but that’s NOT THE PURPOSE OF SCHOOL. Can we really fail to at least consider the idea that schools are intentionally designed the way that they are, to achieve particular purposes and aims, especially with particular kids of particular socioeconomic and racial status?

    For instance, contrast the video in your post, to Chad’s posted in On Exemplary Work. The comparison could hardly be more striking. Who are the kids who are receiving the kind of instruction that lights children up? And who are the children enrolled at KIPP schools? Is this difference really a knowledge problem?

    I’m not sure the failure to transform the sector, and conventional teaching and learning, is a knowledge and insight problem, exclusively. And I think we aren’t as effective as activists if we approach the problems exclusively as, “If we just present the right set of evidence, the world will tip.”

    What say ye, wise woman?


    Posted by Kirsten Olson | June 20, 2011, 2:46 pm
  2. my bad – in saying change hasn’t happened since Dewey and Emerson. amazing things have happened and happen daily. and i love Dan Meyer.
    what i meant was, why their thoughts of ed hadn’t come to fruition in a bigger way. namely – self-directed learning and ownership. by everyone. a redefinition of nclb.

    i don’t think many people are going to need to change in ed, as long as they are doing what they love.
    changing up who’s together in a room, per choice, is where i think we’ll see reform (or whatever you want to call it), to where all learners own their learning.

    i’m thinking the key lies in the word compulsory.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 20, 2011, 3:22 pm

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