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Perspectives Distort

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: March 16, 2005
Latest Update: March 16, 2005

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After you've memorized all the arithmetic tables, and someone now tells you 1 + 1 does not equal 2, it's a tad confusing, especially when it's a younger siblin or one of your kids who comes home and insists that the math you learned isn't the one that counts anymore. Of course, you still have to know it to make change when you buy something, but "junior" is learning something different.

This happens all the time, and not just in math, because technology means that knowing how to use a computer ten years ago doesn't mean that that knowledge still works today.Today, scientists are worried tht the world may actually be two-dimensional, and that gravity may be slithering over the edge, afte we thought it was round all these years. Years ago Evelyn Fox Keller wrote a biography of Nobel Prize winning Barabara McClintock, a geneticist. She wrote that McClintock would never trust an associate to check her visual instruments to see what was happening in her experiments, that instead she always did this work herself. Why? Because her expectations, based on her own creative knowledge of genetics, meant that she could see developments that an associate with less knowledge and creativity might miss. Expectations. I don't remember what page in the biography I read this, but the thought has stayed with me all these years. Our expectations permeate all our perspectives, for we see things from the perspective of our own appercetpive mass.

My fundamental concern when we focus, as we are presently doing, on "testing" children, is the value displacement from encouraging young students to develop the same kind of expertise that Barbard McClintock developed p. A15 of social security article on who we "mold" understanding. Interpretation. Expectation. Dominant Discourse.



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