The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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Day: August 8, 2011

We will never end bullying in our schools

We will never end bullying in our schools while we accept it in society.

 

Children learn from the examples set by adults, and we provide many examples in society of how we tacitly accept bullying. Question period in Canada is brutish and childish. Listen to the video above, and tell me that these men and women are setting a good example for our children.

Professional sports, particularly hockey, allow bullying of players and full-scale violence to occur. Listen  to the people cheering in the background of the video below! How can we possibly end school-yard violence when we embrace it in our entertainment?

 

Glenn Beck, a horrific talk show host who was finally removed from the Fox network, was allowed to spew his hatred for years before he was finally pulled from the air. Why was he allowed to bully people for so long on the air? Why did we allow Ann Coulter to bully gays and lesbians for so long on the radio? Why is it that (great) projects like the "It Gets Better" project take so long to happen in our society?

 

We must remember that children do as we do. This message really hits home if you watch the video below (shared by @jenmarten).

 

I’m okay with doing everything we can to end bullying in schools. I just don’t think that we should pretend it will make a damn bit of difference while we continue to accept it in our society.

Math in the real world: Leaning Plants

This is another post in my series on math in the real world.

 

View all pictures

 

When plants lean over due to being pulled by gravity, they often form a similar shape. With some exploration, we can determine what shape this is (at least approximately). First, I opened up one of these pictures and embedded it in Geogebra. Next, I added some points to my diagram, following along the shapes of one of the plants.

Next, I exported these points over to MS Excel, so I could find a regression on the points. A quick glance at the shape the curve seemed to be representing suggested I should try fitting the points to a parabola.

Graph of points - parabola regression model

The shape does appear to be a parabola, however, I know from experience that not all parabolic shapes are what they appear. For example, a hanging line is actually a catenary.

What would you have to do to confirm that this shape is a parabola? Is it possible that it is only approximately a parabola?

 

What do we need algebra for?

Thanks to the @OpenCulture blog, I got to listen to a very interesting interview with Keith Devlin. Keith argues that kids need algebraic reasoning, and arithmetic, to a point. He doesn’t say kids need to be able to do pencil and paper algebra, in fact, he has a very interesting argument for using spreadsheets more often in schools. Listen here: