plopped in my lap

Posted on July 8, 2012

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So! Things have been going a *little* better in the Learning Actionscript world… enough so I think it’s time to try to make something of my own. I really do forget the stuff if I go away from it, so far, which should be a reminder of what it’s like to be a math student trying to remember which procedures do what when you aren’t even sure what the “do what” is.
I finally watched the parody of Mystery Science Theater that critiqued the Khan Academy’s multiplying integers lesson ( http://mathhombre.blogspot.com/2012/06/mystery-teacher-theatre-2000.html ) . Whew! That one is even worse that the ones I saw — he stresses at least a dozen times that when multiplying integers, if they’re the same sign, they’re positive and if they’re different signs, they’re negative. Once again, he talks about how cool the “why” is — and says that the student should think about it “on your own time.” Oh. Thanks. There are the usual basic terminology errors — he calls the commutative property transitive. In an interview, he said that he left that stuff in there – that it’s understanding how things work that’s most important, and I would agree with the second half. THat whole bizarre ritual of studying the names of properties without really working with how handy they are doesn’t make sense even to me, and I’m about the most “what’s it called? I need to know before I can think about it” verbal person I know.
However, I think it boils down to a simple misconception on Sal Khan’s part. He seems to be confused in the role of the learner and the teacher. Yes, it’s fine as you’re learning to fumble with the finer points and names. It’s *not* so fine if the *teacher* is modeling fumbling through; He could have left the whole name thing out of it and just said that the order of the numbers doesn’t matter in multiplication.
So, not only is edweek.org asking folks to make their own video critiques, but John Golden and David Coffey who made that original parody have put up a google page wherein they’re asking 101 bloggers to grab a lesson, critique it, and put something better up. Collaboration rocks! It may be time to get out Camtasia (over there on the other computer ;)) and pull up the exponents lesson and have at it. I don’t know how long five weeks would feel like if I didn’t have a six month head start 😉
And now time to get back to … well, laundry first, then messin’ with coding, and getting a keyboard. This whole wrists on the laptop thing ain’t gonna work 😉

Posted in: math, math anxiety