Teaching MATLAB in 7th Grade
At last week’s SFSL, during the Kiss My Math segment, I’d offered that some educational institutions and researchers are beginning to challenge the somewhat puritanical convention that rote memory is the best and more effective cognitive skill we can develop in our children.
In no way did I mean to imply that rote memory is not a helpful skill. Nor did I mean to imply that Danica McKellar’s book, the topic of the segment, is without merit. Quite the contrary. Everything that the discussion focused upon made absolute sense and can only help to improve the prospects for young women and students in general. I certainly appreciate and applaud that work.
As an example of what I was suggesting, consider that “The Winsor School is dedicated to developing the individual talents of academically promising and motivated girls in grades five through twelve:<blockquote>Students learn the specific details of the C++ and Matlab computer programming languages, strategies for approaching programming problems, and general algorithmic (systematic, step-by-step) thinking. Programming requires an ability to think precisely and symbolically, and a fascination with problem solving.</blockquote>
Purdue offers a very elementary MATLAB tutorial which I think further illustrates the accessibility of this kind of information, in the context of middle school students who possess even even moderate levels of interest and ability.
More generally, many innovative educators continue to find unique, age-appropriate, curriculum-specific ways to apply the timeless Deming System of Profound Knowledge for transforming business effectiveness.
Which leads me back to an Einstein quotation that has almost become a cliche, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
If we focus tightly upon rote memorization because we uncritically considered it the Pure Core of Genuine Education, we’re likely to keep getting the same results as the hundreds of generations who have done the exact same thing. If our world is increasingly characterized by Accelerating Change and an Intelligence Explosion in our immediate built environment, maybe we should allocate just a small portion of our pedagogical portfolio to considering the relevance of this all too palpable present tense.