A nice compilation of posts related to education and aligned philosophy ....

http://thinkingbeyondcompetition.wordpress.com/writings-on-the-web/education/

-Mrunal

**We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.**

## Wednesday, December 15, 2010

## Tuesday, December 14, 2010

### Art of problem solving ...

Mathematical olympiads and a good way to start for it.

http://www.artofproblemsolving.com

http://www.artofproblemsolving.com

## Friday, November 19, 2010

### Science and Observations

Most of the theories were developed by the great scientists by using sheer power of observations and the genius methods of intellectual calculations. Such observations were possible because I feel the era of 18th and 19th century when most of the scientific theories got established (medival time frame), was less chaotic in terms of the way information is spread in abundance at present.

India produced some great scientist, but India I believed always stayed chaotic with its large population. Creativity is often nurtured only many times in deep silence and meditation. India sadly lacks such environment with its overall societial changes.

Indians I believe are thus less of observant and more of followers and so make a less fortunate scientific contribution overall to the world of science. Because sheer reason of population, which makes many a things impossible to attain.

India produced some great scientist, but India I believed always stayed chaotic with its large population. Creativity is often nurtured only many times in deep silence and meditation. India sadly lacks such environment with its overall societial changes.

Indians I believe are thus less of observant and more of followers and so make a less fortunate scientific contribution overall to the world of science. Because sheer reason of population, which makes many a things impossible to attain.

## Monday, September 27, 2010

### Nice piece of advice about research and life.

Some nice piece of advise from Prof. Keshav.

http://blizzard.cs.uwaterloo.ca/keshav/wiki/index.php/Aphorisms

-Mrunal

http://blizzard.cs.uwaterloo.ca/keshav/wiki/index.php/Aphorisms

-Mrunal

### How to read a scientific book

Reading scientific material is a lot different than reading a story book. Some good advise about how to read a scientific intellectual book is here.

http://ccr.sigcomm.org/online/files/p83-keshavA.pdf

http://capillaryteam.pbworks.com/f/How_to_Read.pdf

http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/howtoread.pdf

http://ccr.sigcomm.org/online/files/p83-keshavA.pdf

http://capillaryteam.pbworks.com/f/How_to_Read.pdf

http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/howtoread.pdf

## Thursday, September 23, 2010

### In depth guide to PhD in UK

A very comprehensive guide to why a PhD?

http://www.findaphd.com/student/study/study-19.asp

-Mrunal

http://www.findaphd.com/student/study/study-19.asp

-Mrunal

## Friday, July 23, 2010

### Sites for parents

Here is a collection of top sites for parents for educating their kids for various needs.

http://www.sitesforparents.com/index.html

-Mrunal

http://www.sitesforparents.com/index.html

-Mrunal

### Some good strategies of teaching and learning.

Seven mathematical processes that form the heart of the teaching and learning strategies used in mathematical teachings.

**Communicating:**Several opportunities for students to share their understanding both in oral as well as written form.**Problem solving:**Scaffolding of knowledge, detecting patterns, making and justifying conjectures, guiding students as they apply their chosen strategy, directing students to use multiple strategies to solve the same problem, when appropriate, recognizing, encouraging, and applauding perseverance, discussing the relative merits of different strategies for specific types of problems.**Asking questions that get students to hypothesize, providing students with one or more numerical examples that parallel these with the generalization and describing their thinking in more detail.**

Reasoning and proving:Reasoning and proving:

**Modeling the reflective process, asking students how they know.**

Reflecting:Reflecting:

**Modeling the use of tools and having students use technology to help solve problems.**

Selecting Tools and Computational Strategies:Selecting Tools and Computational Strategies:

**Activating prior knowledge when introducing a new concept in order to make a smooth connection between previous learning and new concepts, and introducing skills in context to make connections between particular manipulations and problems that require them.**

Connecting:Connecting:

**Modeling various ways to demonstrate understanding, posing questions that require students to use different representations as they are working at each level of conceptual development – concrete, visual or symbolic, allowing individual students the time they need to solidify their understanding at each conceptual stage.**

Representing:Representing:

## Tuesday, July 20, 2010

### Discussions...

Discussions are an extremely important tool for generating new ideas, keeping motivation alive, brainstorm and solve new problems.

How many colleges in India provide a platform for free discussions? There is a difference between college and university. Most of India has colleges, which are at extremely sub par level in terms of education because they staff poor faculty, who are not qualified enough to teach students. If 90 % of students learn in such colleges how are we going to get quality students out who are going to make quality contribution. India suffers because it produces tons of college students who when graduate hunt for a means for earning their bread and butter.

Discussions are an effective way to provide knowledge transfer. Every discussion should be started with a prerequisite study of its topics, followed by healthy debates amongst the members. It helps gets ideas clear, it helps in studying effectively because now you have multiple ways of learning from different people. It helps in making concepts concrete.

The same is true for corporate culture. Indian software developers are considered code monkeys. Because they can not think, and all they understand is how to code rather than being innovative. The root lies in our industry, in our education and in the people who want to nurture this system to provide a way to earn money for themselves. Discussions do not happen in corporate rooms too, because people are not knowledgeable enough to hold such discussions.

These are some important shortcomings and as they will improve things should improve.

How many colleges in India provide a platform for free discussions? There is a difference between college and university. Most of India has colleges, which are at extremely sub par level in terms of education because they staff poor faculty, who are not qualified enough to teach students. If 90 % of students learn in such colleges how are we going to get quality students out who are going to make quality contribution. India suffers because it produces tons of college students who when graduate hunt for a means for earning their bread and butter.

Discussions are an effective way to provide knowledge transfer. Every discussion should be started with a prerequisite study of its topics, followed by healthy debates amongst the members. It helps gets ideas clear, it helps in studying effectively because now you have multiple ways of learning from different people. It helps in making concepts concrete.

The same is true for corporate culture. Indian software developers are considered code monkeys. Because they can not think, and all they understand is how to code rather than being innovative. The root lies in our industry, in our education and in the people who want to nurture this system to provide a way to earn money for themselves. Discussions do not happen in corporate rooms too, because people are not knowledgeable enough to hold such discussions.

These are some important shortcomings and as they will improve things should improve.

## Thursday, July 15, 2010

### Information and Internet

There was a time, exactly 5 years back, when I felt dire need of lot of information. I felt why I do not understand these. I felt why don't I have access to the things that I want to have access to.

I tried getting information access by visiting British library. I tried meeting different people. I tried the best without anybody's guidance. Today, when I look back, I feel I did best to my knowledge. Without anybody to act as a mentor and without Internet that was the best I could have achieved.

Today, I regret so heavily how I lost some of the precious time that I lost, because I did not know how to search for the correct information in the correct way. I regret because I feel what a fool I was, because I did not know how to think correctly.

So, when I think back, I feel kids today are more fortunate, when they have Google to their help. When they have a ready made wikipedia which helps them with information at their fingertips. I believe Internet and wikipedia is the best leveler that this century has witnessed, because with information, comes awareness. And with awareness comes awareness to know more and it builds the curiosity which is so much needed to keep on learning new things and finding new innovative ways to solve new problems.

I so strongly feel, there should be classes in schools which make kids aware how to look for information. Because I know, take our parents generation and you will feel lot of lack of awareness and a fear towards technology. There should be awareness at all level to access the information and to make it work for your own benefit in the best possible ways. And I believe by showing people the way, there will be great benefits.

Information is the best way to make our lives better. Its a new way of education. The one which need not be taught in schools by conventional teachers and yet it could be a lot rewarding in making our lives better, slowly and steadily.

I tried getting information access by visiting British library. I tried meeting different people. I tried the best without anybody's guidance. Today, when I look back, I feel I did best to my knowledge. Without anybody to act as a mentor and without Internet that was the best I could have achieved.

Today, I regret so heavily how I lost some of the precious time that I lost, because I did not know how to search for the correct information in the correct way. I regret because I feel what a fool I was, because I did not know how to think correctly.

So, when I think back, I feel kids today are more fortunate, when they have Google to their help. When they have a ready made wikipedia which helps them with information at their fingertips. I believe Internet and wikipedia is the best leveler that this century has witnessed, because with information, comes awareness. And with awareness comes awareness to know more and it builds the curiosity which is so much needed to keep on learning new things and finding new innovative ways to solve new problems.

I so strongly feel, there should be classes in schools which make kids aware how to look for information. Because I know, take our parents generation and you will feel lot of lack of awareness and a fear towards technology. There should be awareness at all level to access the information and to make it work for your own benefit in the best possible ways. And I believe by showing people the way, there will be great benefits.

Information is the best way to make our lives better. Its a new way of education. The one which need not be taught in schools by conventional teachers and yet it could be a lot rewarding in making our lives better, slowly and steadily.

## Tuesday, July 13, 2010

### The real education

I have been thinking on this very hard for a long time. Is education that we receive in our schools the real education? Is the education that one receives as a child when one is totally incapable of understanding what is being taught and why it is being taught the real education? Why people and most of the society think that the academic achievements are the only one's which establish a person as a real achiever?

Do all the gifted children who were considered a child prodigy able to survive the rigor that life poses as one enters different phases of life. Or does society eats them with its traditional views. Why does history starts looking more fascinating when one does not come in its contact at all, after leaving school.

I believe a person gets molded by two things. The environment that he grows up with and the inherent genes that he carries from his parents while he / she is born. Not all kids are born with great genes, but if they grow up in good environment, with great teachers or thinkers they end up being good too.

Our education gives us different contexts at different stages of our childhood. We are taught to learn vocabulary, we are taught science, we are taught mathematics, history, civics. Then we are taught special branches like engineering. medical..etc etc. Point of a good education is to make good human beings who could understand how to live a meaningful life. But unfortunately many of the times, our education prepares us just for our survival, to earn our bread and butter.

Is education's role solely limited to teaching a person to earn his bread and butter? That is important but how can people understand the role it also plays in making a good human being? That is why you see so many people hating to be educated after a certain basic degree. That is why you see, least resistance to go for higher education in places like India. Because people believe they have achieved a certain qualification to earn ones living and be happy for the rest of their lives.

Does it really happen so? Do people really stay happy with the limited knowledge that they achieve? I believe people make themselves feel they are happy in their state of ignorance of so many things that go around them, which they might become aware of they more educated and if they are taught how to think in a more wise way. And that is why we see so much of nonsense that goes on around us.

I believe real education starts when you are mature enough to understand the vast amount of problems in the world, and how you can contribute to make it better. The rest of the education that one receives in classrooms is not education, its just a tool to make you powerful to sustain your life, by giving you power to earn. And mostly people realize the importance of real education late in their life, when things have come to a full stop or looks like they will come to a full stop.

I am a firm believer of the view that if all these people, who get themselves into the monotonous rigor of living a life as expected by society according to its standards, start visiting their school education again, they will find so much happiness that yes, they are actually understanding the meaning of all of it. And that happiness is a great to be cherished for, as it will take their attention away to some extent, from the daily problems that we face as grown ups at different stages.

## Saturday, June 26, 2010

### What is Computer Science ...

I so wish, the lecturers all over India who start teaching Computer Science to numerous engineering students, read this article. Atleast they will understand something in Computer Science and how it is supposed to be taught.

Courtesy - Great Ideas in Computer Science Spring 2008, from OCW MIT.

What is computer science?

Computer science is not glorified programming. Edsger Dijkstra, Turing Award winner and extremely opinionated man, famously said that computer science has as much to do with computers as astronomy has to do with telescopes. We claim that computer science is a mathematical set of tools, or body of ideas, for understanding just about any system—brain, universe, living organism, or, yes, computer. Scott got into computer science as a kid because he wanted to understand video games. It was clear to him that if you could really understand video games then you could understand the entire universe. After all, what is the universe if not a video game with really, really realistic special effects?

OK, but isn’t physics the accepted academic path to understanding the universe? Well, physicists have what you might call a top-down approach: you look for regularities and try to encapsulate them as general laws, and explain those laws as deeper laws. The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to start digging a little deeper in less than a year.

Computer science you can think of as working in the opposite direction. (Maybe we’ll eventually meet the physicists half-way.) We start with the simplest possible systems, and sets of rules that we haven’t necessarily confirmed by experiment, but which we just suppose are true, and then ask what sort of complex systems we can and cannot build.

Courtesy - Great Ideas in Computer Science Spring 2008, from OCW MIT.

What is computer science?

Computer science is not glorified programming. Edsger Dijkstra, Turing Award winner and extremely opinionated man, famously said that computer science has as much to do with computers as astronomy has to do with telescopes. We claim that computer science is a mathematical set of tools, or body of ideas, for understanding just about any system—brain, universe, living organism, or, yes, computer. Scott got into computer science as a kid because he wanted to understand video games. It was clear to him that if you could really understand video games then you could understand the entire universe. After all, what is the universe if not a video game with really, really realistic special effects?

OK, but isn’t physics the accepted academic path to understanding the universe? Well, physicists have what you might call a top-down approach: you look for regularities and try to encapsulate them as general laws, and explain those laws as deeper laws. The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to start digging a little deeper in less than a year.

Computer science you can think of as working in the opposite direction. (Maybe we’ll eventually meet the physicists half-way.) We start with the simplest possible systems, and sets of rules that we haven’t necessarily confirmed by experiment, but which we just suppose are true, and then ask what sort of complex systems we can and cannot build.

### The Meaning of Maths

The meaning of math

By DWIGHT R. WORLEY

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original Publication: April 25, 2006)

You can bombard 14-year-old Corey Brown with logic. You can employ

statistical probabilities and add up all the reasons you need X (math) to

understand Y (money).

But you'll have an easier time factoring pi to 1,000 decimal places than

convincing this eighth-grader that algebra is important — or useful.

"I don't think this is really going to matter to me. When am I going to

ever use it?" Brown, who attends Rye Middle School and wants to be an

architect, asked after a recent math class. "Some of the stuff we do,

doesn't have anything to do with buildings and design."

Brown is one of millions of students — and adults — who aren't

convinced that most math is all that important in their everyday lives.

Using the math technique of deductive reasoning, that probably also

means that many people aren't concerned that April is Math Awareness

Month, a time set aside to increase understanding and appreciation for

the subject.

Started as Math Awareness Week in 1986 by President Reagan, the concept didn't exactly catch fire with the public but was expanded anyway as the U.S. aimed to encourage more students to study mathematics. But despite two decades of trying to revive math's public image, few subjects continue to evoke as much terror as algebra,

trigonometry, statistics and, perhaps the most feared of all, calculus. Researchers estimate that between 50 percent and 80 percent of U.S. adults, and probably a similar share of children, suffer from some form of math anxiety. That fear translates into subpar performance of children, experts say. Researchers ranked American students 24th out of 29 industrialized countries in math literacy.

"Math anxiety is very common," said Peter Arvanites, a math professor at Rockland Community College who has held workshops on overcoming a fear of math. "If you think about it, math is one of the few subjects where you can publicly declare that you're not good at and not be embarrassed. Our culture is perpetuating this fear and phobia of math. It's saying that it's all right to have and not do anything about it." So if adults are so scared of math, and appear to get along fine without knowing too much about it, why do kids have to learn it? You need it to count change at a store and balance a checkbook, but John Aguilar, a math teacher at Rye Middle School, tries to convince his students that math is not as much about numbers as about ideas. He

said the way math is taught, usually through memorization of formulas and sets of complex rules that can intimidate some students, doesn't show how you can use it to find patterns in life or work your way stepby- step through complex problems.

Aguilar points to television shows like "Deal or No Deal" on NBC, a game show governed by the laws of probability, and the CBS drama "Numbers," in which a genius uses math to help the FBI solve crimes, as examples of how learning math can be fun and applied beyond the blackboard.

"The most frequent question we hear is 'When are we going to use this in real life?' " Aguilar said. "But even if students don't use the math or arithmetic, they'll definitely use the logical reasoning and deductive reasoning thinking skills that they learn in a math class." In short, the mathematical process of analyzing problems and double-checking your work teaches you to think — about almost everything.

But try telling that to a room full of eighth-graders praying for the bell to ring as a teacher draws lines and curves on the board and explains equations for finding slopes and y-intercepts, said Gisele Glosser of Cortlandt, a former math teacher who runs a company that sells mathematics software. "Students always say they hate math," she said. "But by connecting the math to the real world, they were much more motivated to learn what I had to show them."

Still, even in schools like Rye Middle and South Orangetown Middle, which had high percentages of students scoring at Level 4 on state math tests last year — considered mastery of the subject — students aren't always sure why all this "numbers stuff" is important. For them, there's arithmetic, which they acknowledge they need, and then there's ... algebra.

"You know you have to do it, but sometimes you wonder what it's all for," Keira McCoy, a senior at South Orangetown Middle School, said recently after her algebra class.

"We're never going to need algebra," said Christian Dedalmas, as he settled into his seat in math class at Rye Middle. He was joined by several of his classmates who added their thoughts about the uselessness of algebra. Well, another way to look at algebra, is using what you know to discover what you don't. And children do that

every time they try to figure out how to buy as much stuff as possible with their allowance, said Arvanites of RCC. "When you think of how many items you can buy without exceeding a certain amount, including sales tax, that's not purely arithmetic. It involves sequential reasoning, variables and different cases," he said. "Many students don't realize that that's algebra."

As for Brown, the budding architect, if he wants to design buildings that don't fall down, he'll need those lines and slopes in algebra, Aguilar said. That's because algebra helps determine what size house can fit on a given lot, while physics will help him determine how much weight different materials can hold. And he'll need trigonometry to properly design a roof to fit the structure, he said.

"It's all right," Brown said with a smile after listening to an explanation of how architects use advanced math. "I'll get motivated in college."

By DWIGHT R. WORLEY

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original Publication: April 25, 2006)

You can bombard 14-year-old Corey Brown with logic. You can employ

statistical probabilities and add up all the reasons you need X (math) to

understand Y (money).

But you'll have an easier time factoring pi to 1,000 decimal places than

convincing this eighth-grader that algebra is important — or useful.

"I don't think this is really going to matter to me. When am I going to

ever use it?" Brown, who attends Rye Middle School and wants to be an

architect, asked after a recent math class. "Some of the stuff we do,

doesn't have anything to do with buildings and design."

Brown is one of millions of students — and adults — who aren't

convinced that most math is all that important in their everyday lives.

Using the math technique of deductive reasoning, that probably also

means that many people aren't concerned that April is Math Awareness

Month, a time set aside to increase understanding and appreciation for

the subject.

Started as Math Awareness Week in 1986 by President Reagan, the concept didn't exactly catch fire with the public but was expanded anyway as the U.S. aimed to encourage more students to study mathematics. But despite two decades of trying to revive math's public image, few subjects continue to evoke as much terror as algebra,

trigonometry, statistics and, perhaps the most feared of all, calculus. Researchers estimate that between 50 percent and 80 percent of U.S. adults, and probably a similar share of children, suffer from some form of math anxiety. That fear translates into subpar performance of children, experts say. Researchers ranked American students 24th out of 29 industrialized countries in math literacy.

"Math anxiety is very common," said Peter Arvanites, a math professor at Rockland Community College who has held workshops on overcoming a fear of math. "If you think about it, math is one of the few subjects where you can publicly declare that you're not good at and not be embarrassed. Our culture is perpetuating this fear and phobia of math. It's saying that it's all right to have and not do anything about it." So if adults are so scared of math, and appear to get along fine without knowing too much about it, why do kids have to learn it? You need it to count change at a store and balance a checkbook, but John Aguilar, a math teacher at Rye Middle School, tries to convince his students that math is not as much about numbers as about ideas. He

said the way math is taught, usually through memorization of formulas and sets of complex rules that can intimidate some students, doesn't show how you can use it to find patterns in life or work your way stepby- step through complex problems.

Aguilar points to television shows like "Deal or No Deal" on NBC, a game show governed by the laws of probability, and the CBS drama "Numbers," in which a genius uses math to help the FBI solve crimes, as examples of how learning math can be fun and applied beyond the blackboard.

"The most frequent question we hear is 'When are we going to use this in real life?' " Aguilar said. "But even if students don't use the math or arithmetic, they'll definitely use the logical reasoning and deductive reasoning thinking skills that they learn in a math class." In short, the mathematical process of analyzing problems and double-checking your work teaches you to think — about almost everything.

But try telling that to a room full of eighth-graders praying for the bell to ring as a teacher draws lines and curves on the board and explains equations for finding slopes and y-intercepts, said Gisele Glosser of Cortlandt, a former math teacher who runs a company that sells mathematics software. "Students always say they hate math," she said. "But by connecting the math to the real world, they were much more motivated to learn what I had to show them."

Still, even in schools like Rye Middle and South Orangetown Middle, which had high percentages of students scoring at Level 4 on state math tests last year — considered mastery of the subject — students aren't always sure why all this "numbers stuff" is important. For them, there's arithmetic, which they acknowledge they need, and then there's ... algebra.

"You know you have to do it, but sometimes you wonder what it's all for," Keira McCoy, a senior at South Orangetown Middle School, said recently after her algebra class.

"We're never going to need algebra," said Christian Dedalmas, as he settled into his seat in math class at Rye Middle. He was joined by several of his classmates who added their thoughts about the uselessness of algebra. Well, another way to look at algebra, is using what you know to discover what you don't. And children do that

every time they try to figure out how to buy as much stuff as possible with their allowance, said Arvanites of RCC. "When you think of how many items you can buy without exceeding a certain amount, including sales tax, that's not purely arithmetic. It involves sequential reasoning, variables and different cases," he said. "Many students don't realize that that's algebra."

As for Brown, the budding architect, if he wants to design buildings that don't fall down, he'll need those lines and slopes in algebra, Aguilar said. That's because algebra helps determine what size house can fit on a given lot, while physics will help him determine how much weight different materials can hold. And he'll need trigonometry to properly design a roof to fit the structure, he said.

"It's all right," Brown said with a smile after listening to an explanation of how architects use advanced math. "I'll get motivated in college."

## Tuesday, June 22, 2010

### What is Computer Science ...

I so wish, the lecturers all over India who start teaching Computer Science to numerous engineering students, read this article. Atleast they will understand something in Computer Science and how it is supposed to be taught.

Courtesy - Great Ideas in Computer Science Spring 2008, from OCW MIT.

What is computer science?

Computer science is not glorified programming. Edsger Dijkstra, Turing Award winner and extremely opinionated man, famously said that computer science has as much to do with computers as astronomy has to do with telescopes. We claim that computer science is a mathematical set of tools, or body of ideas, for understanding just about any system—brain, universe, living organism, or, yes, computer. Scott got into computer science as a kid because he wanted to understand video games. It was clear to him that if you could really understand video games then you could understand the entire universe. After all, what is the universe if not a video game with really, really realistic special effects?

OK, but isn’t physics the accepted academic path to understanding the universe? Well, physicists have what you might call a top-down approach: you look for regularities and try to encapsulate them as general laws, and explain those laws as deeper laws. The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to start digging a little deeper in less than a year.

Computer science you can think of as working in the opposite direction. (Maybe we’ll eventually meet the physicists half-way.) We start with the simplest possible systems, and sets of rules that we haven’t necessarily confirmed by experiment, but which we just suppose are true, and then ask what sort of complex systems we can and cannot build.

Courtesy - Great Ideas in Computer Science Spring 2008, from OCW MIT.

What is computer science?

Computer science is not glorified programming. Edsger Dijkstra, Turing Award winner and extremely opinionated man, famously said that computer science has as much to do with computers as astronomy has to do with telescopes. We claim that computer science is a mathematical set of tools, or body of ideas, for understanding just about any system—brain, universe, living organism, or, yes, computer. Scott got into computer science as a kid because he wanted to understand video games. It was clear to him that if you could really understand video games then you could understand the entire universe. After all, what is the universe if not a video game with really, really realistic special effects?

OK, but isn’t physics the accepted academic path to understanding the universe? Well, physicists have what you might call a top-down approach: you look for regularities and try to encapsulate them as general laws, and explain those laws as deeper laws. The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to start digging a little deeper in less than a year.

Computer science you can think of as working in the opposite direction. (Maybe we’ll eventually meet the physicists half-way.) We start with the simplest possible systems, and sets of rules that we haven’t necessarily confirmed by experiment, but which we just suppose are true, and then ask what sort of complex systems we can and cannot build.

### Why we need Maths ...

The meaning of math

By DWIGHT R. WORLEY

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original Publication: April 25, 2006)

You can bombard 14-year-old Corey Brown with logic. You can employ

statistical probabilities and add up all the reasons you need X (math) to

understand Y (money).

But you'll have an easier time factoring pi to 1,000 decimal places than

convincing this eighth-grader that algebra is important — or useful.

"I don't think this is really going to matter to me. When am I going to

ever use it?" Brown, who attends Rye Middle School and wants to be an

architect, asked after a recent math class. "Some of the stuff we do,

doesn't have anything to do with buildings and design."

Brown is one of millions of students — and adults — who aren't

convinced that most math is all that important in their everyday lives.

Using the math technique of deductive reasoning, that probably also

means that many people aren't concerned that April is Math Awareness

Month, a time set aside to increase understanding and appreciation for

the subject.

Started as Math Awareness Week in 1986 by President Reagan, the concept didn't exactly catch fire with the public but was expanded anyway as the U.S. aimed to encourage more students to study mathematics. But despite two decades of trying to revive math's public image, few subjects continue to evoke as much terror as algebra,

trigonometry, statistics and, perhaps the most feared of all, calculus. Researchers estimate that between 50 percent and 80 percent of U.S. adults, and probably a similar share of children, suffer from some form of math anxiety. That fear translates into subpar performance of children, experts say. Researchers ranked American students 24th out of 29 industrialized countries in math literacy.

"Math anxiety is very common," said Peter Arvanites, a math professor at Rockland Community College who has held workshops on overcoming a fear of math. "If you think about it, math is one of the few subjects where you can publicly declare that you're not good at and not be embarrassed. Our culture is perpetuating this fear and phobia of math. It's saying that it's all right to have and not do anything about it." So if adults are so scared of math, and appear to get along fine without knowing too much about it, why do kids have to learn it? You need it to count change at a store and balance a checkbook, but John Aguilar, a math teacher at Rye Middle School, tries to convince his students that math is not as much about numbers as about ideas. He

said the way math is taught, usually through memorization of formulas and sets of complex rules that can intimidate some students, doesn't show how you can use it to find patterns in life or work your way stepby- step through complex problems.

Aguilar points to television shows like "Deal or No Deal" on NBC, a game show governed by the laws of probability, and the CBS drama "Numbers," in which a genius uses math to help the FBI solve crimes, as examples of how learning math can be fun and applied beyond the blackboard.

"The most frequent question we hear is 'When are we going to use this in real life?' " Aguilar said. "But even if students don't use the math or arithmetic, they'll definitely use the logical reasoning and deductive reasoning thinking skills that they learn in a math class." In short, the mathematical process of analyzing problems and double-checking your work teaches you to think — about almost everything.

But try telling that to a room full of eighth-graders praying for the bell to ring as a teacher draws lines and curves on the board and explains equations for finding slopes and y-intercepts, said Gisele Glosser of Cortlandt, a former math teacher who runs a company that sells mathematics software. "Students always say they hate math," she said. "But by connecting the math to the real world, they were much more motivated to learn what I had to show them."

Still, even in schools like Rye Middle and South Orangetown Middle, which had high percentages of students scoring at Level 4 on state math tests last year — considered mastery of the subject — students aren't always sure why all this "numbers stuff" is important. For them, there's arithmetic, which they acknowledge they need, and then there's ... algebra.

"You know you have to do it, but sometimes you wonder what it's all for," Keira McCoy, a senior at South Orangetown Middle School, said recently after her algebra class.

"We're never going to need algebra," said Christian Dedalmas, as he settled into his seat in math class at Rye Middle. He was joined by several of his classmates who added their thoughts about the uselessness of algebra. Well, another way to look at algebra, is using what you know to discover what you don't. And children do that

every time they try to figure out how to buy as much stuff as possible with their allowance, said Arvanites of RCC. "When you think of how many items you can buy without exceeding a certain amount, including sales tax, that's not purely arithmetic. It involves sequential reasoning, variables and different cases," he said. "Many students don't realize that that's algebra."

As for Brown, the budding architect, if he wants to design buildings that don't fall down, he'll need those lines and slopes in algebra, Aguilar said. That's because algebra helps determine what size house can fit on a given lot, while physics will help him determine how much weight different materials can hold. And he'll need trigonometry to properly design a roof to fit the structure, he said.

"It's all right," Brown said with a smile after listening to an explanation of how architects use advanced math. "I'll get motivated in college."

By DWIGHT R. WORLEY

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original Publication: April 25, 2006)

You can bombard 14-year-old Corey Brown with logic. You can employ

statistical probabilities and add up all the reasons you need X (math) to

understand Y (money).

But you'll have an easier time factoring pi to 1,000 decimal places than

convincing this eighth-grader that algebra is important — or useful.

"I don't think this is really going to matter to me. When am I going to

ever use it?" Brown, who attends Rye Middle School and wants to be an

architect, asked after a recent math class. "Some of the stuff we do,

doesn't have anything to do with buildings and design."

Brown is one of millions of students — and adults — who aren't

convinced that most math is all that important in their everyday lives.

Using the math technique of deductive reasoning, that probably also

means that many people aren't concerned that April is Math Awareness

Month, a time set aside to increase understanding and appreciation for

the subject.

Started as Math Awareness Week in 1986 by President Reagan, the concept didn't exactly catch fire with the public but was expanded anyway as the U.S. aimed to encourage more students to study mathematics. But despite two decades of trying to revive math's public image, few subjects continue to evoke as much terror as algebra,

trigonometry, statistics and, perhaps the most feared of all, calculus. Researchers estimate that between 50 percent and 80 percent of U.S. adults, and probably a similar share of children, suffer from some form of math anxiety. That fear translates into subpar performance of children, experts say. Researchers ranked American students 24th out of 29 industrialized countries in math literacy.

"Math anxiety is very common," said Peter Arvanites, a math professor at Rockland Community College who has held workshops on overcoming a fear of math. "If you think about it, math is one of the few subjects where you can publicly declare that you're not good at and not be embarrassed. Our culture is perpetuating this fear and phobia of math. It's saying that it's all right to have and not do anything about it." So if adults are so scared of math, and appear to get along fine without knowing too much about it, why do kids have to learn it? You need it to count change at a store and balance a checkbook, but John Aguilar, a math teacher at Rye Middle School, tries to convince his students that math is not as much about numbers as about ideas. He

said the way math is taught, usually through memorization of formulas and sets of complex rules that can intimidate some students, doesn't show how you can use it to find patterns in life or work your way stepby- step through complex problems.

Aguilar points to television shows like "Deal or No Deal" on NBC, a game show governed by the laws of probability, and the CBS drama "Numbers," in which a genius uses math to help the FBI solve crimes, as examples of how learning math can be fun and applied beyond the blackboard.

"The most frequent question we hear is 'When are we going to use this in real life?' " Aguilar said. "But even if students don't use the math or arithmetic, they'll definitely use the logical reasoning and deductive reasoning thinking skills that they learn in a math class." In short, the mathematical process of analyzing problems and double-checking your work teaches you to think — about almost everything.

But try telling that to a room full of eighth-graders praying for the bell to ring as a teacher draws lines and curves on the board and explains equations for finding slopes and y-intercepts, said Gisele Glosser of Cortlandt, a former math teacher who runs a company that sells mathematics software. "Students always say they hate math," she said. "But by connecting the math to the real world, they were much more motivated to learn what I had to show them."

Still, even in schools like Rye Middle and South Orangetown Middle, which had high percentages of students scoring at Level 4 on state math tests last year — considered mastery of the subject — students aren't always sure why all this "numbers stuff" is important. For them, there's arithmetic, which they acknowledge they need, and then there's ... algebra.

"You know you have to do it, but sometimes you wonder what it's all for," Keira McCoy, a senior at South Orangetown Middle School, said recently after her algebra class.

"We're never going to need algebra," said Christian Dedalmas, as he settled into his seat in math class at Rye Middle. He was joined by several of his classmates who added their thoughts about the uselessness of algebra. Well, another way to look at algebra, is using what you know to discover what you don't. And children do that

every time they try to figure out how to buy as much stuff as possible with their allowance, said Arvanites of RCC. "When you think of how many items you can buy without exceeding a certain amount, including sales tax, that's not purely arithmetic. It involves sequential reasoning, variables and different cases," he said. "Many students don't realize that that's algebra."

As for Brown, the budding architect, if he wants to design buildings that don't fall down, he'll need those lines and slopes in algebra, Aguilar said. That's because algebra helps determine what size house can fit on a given lot, while physics will help him determine how much weight different materials can hold. And he'll need trigonometry to properly design a roof to fit the structure, he said.

"It's all right," Brown said with a smile after listening to an explanation of how architects use advanced math. "I'll get motivated in college."

## Monday, June 21, 2010

### M. J. Adler - a great academician

Some very well known scientists / academics leave a strong mark of their work when they leave this world. Mr. M.J. Adler is one such person. A PhD in philosophy. He has written some amazing books to date.

Here is a collection of some of his best work so far on various topics.

http://www.thegreatideas.org/adler-on.html

And here is a very much useful article from him, on "How to read a scientific book". Reading a novel is different than reading a scientific book. He explains lot of myths here in a very much illustrative manner.

http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/howtoread.pdf

Here is a collection of some of his best work so far on various topics.

http://www.thegreatideas.org/adler-on.html

And here is a very much useful article from him, on "How to read a scientific book". Reading a novel is different than reading a scientific book. He explains lot of myths here in a very much illustrative manner.

http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/howtoread.pdf

### Everybody can learn

I am a strong believer of sharing philosophy, that it almost gets suffocating when I come across instances where under the name of competition things are hidden. Friends hides job placements, employees hide access to information and knowledge transfer, parents hide intricacies of teaching their children how to live a meaningful life, government hides information that would aid its citizens take correct decisions.

Most of this hiding comes from a strong sense of competition that is imbibed in us right from childhood, because if your own child wont succeed some body else's will and that will be bad. Failures are considered miserable and sometimes reprimanded with strong punishments. The hiding games begins from this stage and then it continues. I will call it the act as self preservance.

Here is a great cause by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to share the knowledge for a better world. They have some of the best taught courses available here, from the best professors in the world.

http://ocw.mit.edu/

But some how I strongly feel that inorder to learn anything scientific, you need to understand how to learn it. As I said before, there are different methods of learning, and just because it is from MIT, things will not get straightforwards and start twinkling in your head. This is the kind of learning that gets experienced in American schools, IITs and IISCs.

Kudos MIT for the great step. I wish many more universities open their doors like this. But the most important stuff is to let have lectures which will tell the prospective learners how to learn this material and what is the procedure.

-Mrunal

Most of this hiding comes from a strong sense of competition that is imbibed in us right from childhood, because if your own child wont succeed some body else's will and that will be bad. Failures are considered miserable and sometimes reprimanded with strong punishments. The hiding games begins from this stage and then it continues. I will call it the act as self preservance.

Here is a great cause by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to share the knowledge for a better world. They have some of the best taught courses available here, from the best professors in the world.

http://ocw.mit.edu/

But some how I strongly feel that inorder to learn anything scientific, you need to understand how to learn it. As I said before, there are different methods of learning, and just because it is from MIT, things will not get straightforwards and start twinkling in your head. This is the kind of learning that gets experienced in American schools, IITs and IISCs.

Kudos MIT for the great step. I wish many more universities open their doors like this. But the most important stuff is to let have lectures which will tell the prospective learners how to learn this material and what is the procedure.

-Mrunal

## Wednesday, April 28, 2010

### Asking the right questions ...

It is said that an intelligent man asks the correct questions. Ask yourself do you?

It is also said more often that talk less, observe and think more. Now ask yourself, do you?

When you will be required to ask the correct questions, you will be expected to have understood the context to ask the questions. Asking correct questions is more relevant in high profile environment like when you are talking with a high profile person. It is important that you let him talk and answer your questions, than you trying to explain him how great you are. With the limited time you have in hand, it is required that you ask the correct questions, so that he will talk more and you will listen and observe more.

RTI act, empowers common citizens of India in the same manner. By asking correct set of questions, one can get lot of data, which till date was nowhere seen. Asking correct set of questions though is very important.

Talking to a public or government official, if you ask the right set of questions, it shows you are familiar with the context and the environment and are aware of your rights. Chances are you will get good treatment, after all, knowledge is respected after a certain degree by even most not so much knowledge respecting person also.

So ask right questions. Let right questions come to your mind and let you try finding out answers for them. Many times answers are fuzzy, no problem.

Having questions is more important than having answers in the long run ...because that shows that you have brains :) and you are capable of thinking :)

It is also said more often that talk less, observe and think more. Now ask yourself, do you?

When you will be required to ask the correct questions, you will be expected to have understood the context to ask the questions. Asking correct questions is more relevant in high profile environment like when you are talking with a high profile person. It is important that you let him talk and answer your questions, than you trying to explain him how great you are. With the limited time you have in hand, it is required that you ask the correct questions, so that he will talk more and you will listen and observe more.

RTI act, empowers common citizens of India in the same manner. By asking correct set of questions, one can get lot of data, which till date was nowhere seen. Asking correct set of questions though is very important.

Talking to a public or government official, if you ask the right set of questions, it shows you are familiar with the context and the environment and are aware of your rights. Chances are you will get good treatment, after all, knowledge is respected after a certain degree by even most not so much knowledge respecting person also.

So ask right questions. Let right questions come to your mind and let you try finding out answers for them. Many times answers are fuzzy, no problem.

Having questions is more important than having answers in the long run ...because that shows that you have brains :) and you are capable of thinking :)

## Sunday, April 18, 2010

### Robotics in Metros

Robotics seems to be the latest craze in Indian metros. I am coming across lots of summer camps targeted at children, which deals with robotics. Here is a sample I came across today.

http://robokidz.co.in/robocumps.php

Feels good that kids in the metros are getting exposed to some practical aspects of learning through fun. Agreed that it is a commercial activity, where much learning can not happen, since one can not except kids to learn about building robots in some 2 day training course. Where are the basics?

But good part is atleast there are such facilities there, by which kids could be able to think. There is extreme awareness about lot of things in Indian metros and every parent wants their child to be ahead in the competition and there lies a huge market for all businessman. Kids are a sensitive subject and anything that deals with them is sensitive. Businesses know how to play with your emotions and your future. :) But, good that some thing constructive is being done.

Question is the gap between Indian metros and Indian villages is widening day by day. Indian villages are rotted in the same old style, when metros are progressing by leaps and bounds. In recent times, I have visited lot of villages in Maharashtra and I do not find any improvement in the condition of peoples way of living there.

It feels bad to see village kids spending their time, in some dusty field without any body to guide them, when their city counterparts are busy preparing for a bright future. They too want to have a better future, but where is the awareness? Except for the work of some NGO's and some really driven people, who are very scarce in number.

Real democracy will be achieved that day, when Indian village kids will be able to utilize their time, in the best possible manner, so that they can compete with their city counterparts. Because then India would have achieved progress at village level too and would have a really equal society. I think that is the real democracy.

Robitics seems the flavor for time being. And I am going to attend one of these camps for sure out of curiosity of how they are conducted.

http://robokidz.co.in/robocumps.php

Feels good that kids in the metros are getting exposed to some practical aspects of learning through fun. Agreed that it is a commercial activity, where much learning can not happen, since one can not except kids to learn about building robots in some 2 day training course. Where are the basics?

But good part is atleast there are such facilities there, by which kids could be able to think. There is extreme awareness about lot of things in Indian metros and every parent wants their child to be ahead in the competition and there lies a huge market for all businessman. Kids are a sensitive subject and anything that deals with them is sensitive. Businesses know how to play with your emotions and your future. :) But, good that some thing constructive is being done.

Question is the gap between Indian metros and Indian villages is widening day by day. Indian villages are rotted in the same old style, when metros are progressing by leaps and bounds. In recent times, I have visited lot of villages in Maharashtra and I do not find any improvement in the condition of peoples way of living there.

It feels bad to see village kids spending their time, in some dusty field without any body to guide them, when their city counterparts are busy preparing for a bright future. They too want to have a better future, but where is the awareness? Except for the work of some NGO's and some really driven people, who are very scarce in number.

Real democracy will be achieved that day, when Indian village kids will be able to utilize their time, in the best possible manner, so that they can compete with their city counterparts. Because then India would have achieved progress at village level too and would have a really equal society. I think that is the real democracy.

Robitics seems the flavor for time being. And I am going to attend one of these camps for sure out of curiosity of how they are conducted.

## Wednesday, April 7, 2010

### Teaching a child at a time ...

Teaching one child at a time...

A nice inspirational talk on TED by Shukla Bose on how to teach slum children..Do watch it even if it means buffering the bandwidth on your Internet connection by pausing the video ...Some efforts could be supported just by providing them with your time to take a notice of them ...

http://www.ted.com/talks/shukla_bose_teaching_one_child_at_a_time.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2010-03-31&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

-Mrunal

A nice inspirational talk on TED by Shukla Bose on how to teach slum children..Do watch it even if it means buffering the bandwidth on your Internet connection by pausing the video ...Some efforts could be supported just by providing them with your time to take a notice of them ...

http://www.ted.com/talks/shukla_bose_teaching_one_child_at_a_time.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2010-03-31&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

-Mrunal

## Sunday, March 7, 2010

### Teaching Assistant ...(TA)

The biggest find I had during my graduate days at UCSC was the role of a Teaching Assistant. US education system has lot of small small nice aspects which makes it one of the best education system in the world.

Teaching Assistant is the role played by a senior student or a graduate student in making the lower class students / junior students understand any difficulty with respect to subject matter / practicals being conducted by a professor during class. So let us consider an introductory class like "Introduction to Computer Science". Now this class will have all type of students right from some students who have previous exposure to programming and computers to those type of students who are totally new to computers and do not know absolutely anything about them. Role of a professor is to make teaching lively and taking into account psychology of all students in account. Professor usually has a biweekly session of 1 hour called Office Hours. Where students can ask difficulties to the professor directly. For all the other difficulties there is a Teaching Assistant. Responsibility of this TA is to answer to queries of students, dumbest of the questions ( "How do I turn on the monitor?" "How do I save this file on hard drive" to advanced programming questions like "What is an assembly language and how well can you explain it".) He also helps students in conducting before exam review session so that students are well prepared for the exams.

Role of a TA is important because most of the times, it becomes easier to interact with a student than a professor and ask some stupidest questions without feeling embarrassed. It really helps in making basics clear for these students. So this is a great system where students get benefited a lot and their basic concepts become really good. It helps students understand that they are a part of a group and help them understand the concept of correct methods of learning. Believe me there are different ways of learning. One could be learning a thing in a wrong way unknowingly.

Good thing about these professors and Teaching Assistants is they really want to help you understand material in a better way. They like questions being asked. I was a Teaching Assistant for 2 courses and I loved my job. It was great to understand students psychology and make them a better person.

Compare this with the way education is imparted in Indian schools. I remember, professors who made students cry during final practical examination under their own ego. I remember lecturers throwing away journals without understanding the cause behind a faulty lab experiment. I remember lecturers playing games in class and making a mockery of the important basic subjects which should have been taught correctly, so that students had a vision of the future. I remember lecturers favoring a certain group of students because they were already well exposed and could answer questions. I remember lecturers not attending classes, teaching wrong things, bluffing, making fun of low performing students because of different things.

I never entertained these lecturers. But I knew many who left no opportunity to please them, though they were wrong. I did not know then that, this is called Interpersonal skills. You repeat the same nonsense in pleasing your boss in a nonsense work environment to move ahead of others. I some how could not develop these interpersonal skills and please others. But I know many who did and are pretty ahead in their respective fields. Good for them.

But I made sure that I gave these people the feedback that they did this thing wrong and that thing wrong. I could not suppress the nonsense they were doing. I some times walked out from classrooms when I could not take the nonsense. People do not like giving feedbacks, because it comes at the cost of interpersonal skills. People do not like to admit mistakes because it hurts their egos. People do not want to share things because they feel what if I stay behind and the other person goes ahead of me?

US is a country which respect utter professionalism. Be it in work environment or education system. I am glad I could be a part of one of the best education systems in the world and could learn so many things. Sure they would come handy in long run.

I wish some day Indians learn this professionalism.

## Wednesday, March 3, 2010

### Scienitific Blogging...

Came across this nice blog today. Felt like sharing. It talks about lot of aspects by which science could be improved in its effectiveness.

http://www.scientificblogging.com/

Here is a sample post on "Why not try scientific approach towards science education "...

http://www.scientificblogging.com/carl_wieman/why_not_try_scientific_approach_science_education

http://www.scientificblogging.com/

Here is a sample post on "Why not try scientific approach towards science education "...

http://www.scientificblogging.com/carl_wieman/why_not_try_scientific_approach_science_education

## Friday, February 26, 2010

### How to lie with Statistics ....

I am reading a book titled "How to lie with Statistics" :) An impressive collection of day to day stories of probabilities and statistics in daily usage that can make our decision making more accurate and wisely. If you are interested there is one more, titled "Struck by lightning" which also deals with the same subject.

An interesting statistics. http://www.cehat.org/railwaypil.html

On 20th January 2004, there had been a total of 5,513 railway deaths in a single year of 2002-03 in Mumbai. I could not get the latest statistics.

http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:http://www.punepolice.com/statistic.htm

A more interesting statistics about Pune accidents could be found here.

About 250 people die in road accidents in India everyday! 8 people died in Pune bomb blast. 200 people died in 26/11.

Now compare the media coverage that an event like a bomb blast gets as compared to the coverage that everyday deaths in India (child birth, accidents, dowry etc etc) draw and you have an interesting case of "How to lie with statistics" :)

Plane crashes are rare, but when all you see in newspapers or on television are the horrifying images of plane crashes mind of a common man, gets psychological effect of terror. Same is the case with bomb blasts.

With no less regards to the events like bomb blasts etc that gets glorified India needs to get its act together in lot of other corners to make lives of their citizens better ones. Security from terrorism is just one aspect of that. The silent killers are mercilessly many other events, which sadly never get glorified because a common man dying in an accident (because of infrastructure / individual mistake), or some dowry death happening in some remote corner of India, does not have enough meat to fill in the headlines with horrendous images and to boost TRPs and newspaper sales.

Probability and statistics can make your decision making power tremendously rational and can give you a stress free environment to stay in the world that we stay in :)

I am loving maths more and more, everytime I am getting in it. And now I think, only if I had better teachers to explain the correct application of Maths in day to day usage, while it was being learned, I could have been so different :( Right from the arithmetic to probabilities to Calculus everything seems to have some usability in some way in some part of our life. And maths becomes such a nice play then :)

Here is a nice tutoring site if you are interested

www.khanacademy.org

I wish to learn it even more and more now and everytime I learn a new concept which I knew, but did not know its actual applicability my eyes glitter with a new hope :) Wow.

An interesting statistics. http://www.cehat.org/railwaypil.html

On 20th January 2004, there had been a total of 5,513 railway deaths in a single year of 2002-03 in Mumbai. I could not get the latest statistics.

http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:http://www.punepolice.com/statistic.htm

A more interesting statistics about Pune accidents could be found here.

About 250 people die in road accidents in India everyday! 8 people died in Pune bomb blast. 200 people died in 26/11.

Now compare the media coverage that an event like a bomb blast gets as compared to the coverage that everyday deaths in India (child birth, accidents, dowry etc etc) draw and you have an interesting case of "How to lie with statistics" :)

Plane crashes are rare, but when all you see in newspapers or on television are the horrifying images of plane crashes mind of a common man, gets psychological effect of terror. Same is the case with bomb blasts.

With no less regards to the events like bomb blasts etc that gets glorified India needs to get its act together in lot of other corners to make lives of their citizens better ones. Security from terrorism is just one aspect of that. The silent killers are mercilessly many other events, which sadly never get glorified because a common man dying in an accident (because of infrastructure / individual mistake), or some dowry death happening in some remote corner of India, does not have enough meat to fill in the headlines with horrendous images and to boost TRPs and newspaper sales.

Probability and statistics can make your decision making power tremendously rational and can give you a stress free environment to stay in the world that we stay in :)

I am loving maths more and more, everytime I am getting in it. And now I think, only if I had better teachers to explain the correct application of Maths in day to day usage, while it was being learned, I could have been so different :( Right from the arithmetic to probabilities to Calculus everything seems to have some usability in some way in some part of our life. And maths becomes such a nice play then :)

Here is a nice tutoring site if you are interested

www.khanacademy.org

I wish to learn it even more and more now and everytime I learn a new concept which I knew, but did not know its actual applicability my eyes glitter with a new hope :) Wow.

Subscribe to:
Posts (Atom)