Teaching Kids Math With Computers

In grade 12 I achieved the top marks for Mathematics HG. This was the culmination of two years of preparation, and mostly completing old exam papers from the previous three years. After seeing this TED Talk by Conrad Wolfram posted on the Facebook page of Claire Marketos, I suggested she contact Roger Layton. He told me a few days ago he submitted his Ph.D. thesis on a similar. You may read his reply below after the video…

Roger Layton: I do not actually agree with what Conrad has to say in this video. He is (not so subtly) punting his Mathematica products and others such as Wolfram Alpha. However, it is difficult to criticise him and Wolfram Research in general since they are A-list in the mathematics world – but that does not make them correct. My kids learned LOGO at school and that did not make them better mathematicians. The usage of the calculator has definitely reduced learners ability to perform mental calculations, and with calculators doing more and more this is becoming worse over time. He has a point that technology allows us to doing things better, but human understanding is compromised if we use technology too much.

My own research explored the question of what computers should be used for in the mathematics classroom and my focus is on diagnostic assessment – discovering of conceptual barriers to understanding rather than as a tool to aid conceptual development. This is different from Conrad Wolfram’s perspective here and his talk is not aligned with modern thinking of what mathematics is and what mathematical proficiency is, and this is multi-dimensional and not limited to calculations alone. I think he is out of touch.
Claire Marketos: I like Conrad”s idea of using computers to spend more time problem solving. For bright maths students the primary years are tedious as they are expected to do basic computing over and over again. For them being able to use computers to solve problems would be more satisfying. What is your hands on experience with learners Roger?

 

Day 1 – Futurex Conference 2007 – Roger Layton on Project Failures

Topic: Project Failures Modes: Lessons from the Field

Roger Layton is a witty and inspirational speaker. The many years he spent lecturing and training comes through in the smooth delivery of his presentation. He is by far one of the best of the entire Futurex Conference speakers. In light of the eNatis failure people outside the Langlaagte Traffic Licensing stationed threatened to burn down the building. One of the major reasons is that the different stakeholders did not agree that there was a failure in the system. In that respect one could say that not communicating in itself is a failire.

So what is the basic premiss on project failures? Failure Avoidance!

Let us learn from other’s mistakes because this will improve our understanding of failure. Analysis of Google search on “Project Failure” identifies almost exclusively IT project failures. Engineering and other areas do not come up as frequently as IT project failures.

Roger’s definition of of “Failure” is the inability of the project to deliver the intended benefits to the identified stakeholders. Failure is also relative to project’s complexity. Looking at the track record of IT project the mainstream attitude or approach seems to be: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! The fear of failure of new systems overrides the need or value that can be derived from replacing old systems.

Some major failures mentioned is: MacDonald’s, IRS, National Health Service (UK) each spending hundreds of millions of dollars and in some cases billions!

Here’s my video post interview with Roger Layton:

And you can view his presentation here:


For more information contact Roger Layton and Associates via his website.