If you want to read something about diversity, affirmative action, etc. with which I agree 100%, then read this post at NewsAlert. Top notch catch there, a definite keeper.
Now onto my story from class today.
In my pre-calculus class we've been reviewing logarithms. We've completed all the state standards for trig and math analysis (which together constitute a pre-calculus course) and now, on the advice of one of our calculus teachers, I'm reviewing the Algebra II topic of logs.
Today's topic was trying to determine the equation of data that, when graphed, are seemingly exponential in nature--that is, the data could be described by the equation y=a*e^(bx), where a and b are constants and e is the base of the natural logarithm, a constant approximately equal to 2.718. Fitting data of this type to a specific curve can be rather difficult, so we "linearized" the data (if you're interested in the specifics of what I'm talking about, please email me at the address in my profile).
The data in my sample problem was the population of India, in 10 year increments, from 1950 to 1990. We were able to linearize the data and, knowing all about slope and y-intercepts of straight lines, were able to determine that the population of India (in hundreds of millions) could be modeled by the equation y=3.5*(1.022)^x, giving India an average population increase of 2.2% per year since 1950.
This type of data analysis is the epitome of "When are we ever gonna have to use this?" and, while the concept is actually quite simple, it takes awhile to sink in.
In one of my classes I have two students who are of Indian extraction; they even have non-English first and last names! Both of them took great glee in working this problem, and both of them made a point of feeding the beast that they knew was running through my head:
"I really feel a part of the math curriculum now."
"I don't think I could have done this problem if it involved the population of England."
"Now I understand this problem."
"I can tell that, by choosing this problem, you really care about me as a person."
Did you hear that, you multiculturalist lefties? The very minority kids you're trying to pander to can see right through your bigotry and condescension--and they laugh at you!
I haven't cleared this with my wife yet, so it may be a no-go in the long run, but just for giggles, let's swap residences for a week or so: you can be a conservative in Texas, and I can be a liberal in California.
You'll get good local barbeque, I'll get sprout-and-avocado sandwiches.... Nevermind. I ain't even gonna run it past her.
I believe it's called "making a connection with students". Part of the "why should we learn this?" differentiated learning process to "pull that kid in". Aren't we hip with the kids?
I don't think we make any connections with students by pandering to them--and these students were smart enough to figure it out. We had a ball playing off each other in this case.
Of course they figured it out. I don't think it's a case of who can and cannot tell when they're being condescended to and patronized, but a case of who is so used to it they think they're entitled.
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