[IAEP] Physics - Lesson plans ideas?
droujkova at gmail.com
Sun Aug 23 17:57:17 EDT 2009
On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 1:25 PM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hi Maria,
> You wrote
> >People who grow up with assumed social pluralism won't be as shocked,
> though. Science principles match >the new social order of the "massively
> multiplayer" community scene pretty well.
> I'd love to hear more about what you mean by this.
I will tell some short stories to follow your list of principles. The
general themes of the stories are plurality of "worlds" (cultures), and the
resulting deconstruction of authoritarian approaches.
-- the world is not as it seems
"On the internet, nobody knows you are a dog" meme:
One can get used to the massive abilities of individuals and networks to
self-represent in stories, often in ways that have nothing to do with
reality, in any sense of the word.
Also, various virtual worlds have significantly different laws of "physics."
For example, in World of Warcraft there are no collision mechanics among
players, as characters can simply walk through one another, no acceleration
due to gravity (things fall at a constant speed), and no inertia in movement
or in flight. On the other hand, in Eve Online, a sci-fi space flight game,
if I remember correctly, a significant portion of the gameplay is based on
gravity and inertia (which you can cancel with some force fields, etc.)
People are used to exploring, exploiting, and critiquing in-world laws on
the basis of consistency, fun, convenience, and correspondences to the real
world and to other virtual worlds. Much of this is not conscious or
explicit, let alone worked out mathematically, but people are used to a wide
variety of modeled worlds, and to the fact that world creators have full
control over models.
-- our culture's views likely have nothing much to do with how the universe
is set up
This one is tougher, and the Web version frequently is, "THEIR culture's
views are weird/inadequate/messed up." By being exposed to wildly
contradicting cultural views daily, people's beliefs that there is The Right
One can be eroded. All sides typically use both social and math/science
stories to back up their views, leading to the general atmosphere of
skepticism. "97% of all statistics are made up on the spot" is a very old
meme (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ptitle5kgfz6fn1lso) - what
changed now is the amount of communities making their subcultures' views
easily available online - for searching, categorizing, and also evaluating,
comparing, tagging, and often being deconstructed by outsiders.
In any case, "our culture" is replaced with "multiple cultures in which I
participate more, or less, centrally." Thus cultural views are to be chosen,
critically evaluated, compared, and changed as needed.
I do not know if "the universe" is lost in all of that, though. The physical
world becomes less privileged among representational worlds, as they get
increasingly more complex, appealing and sustainable as communication
-- think instead of believe
This principle is both strengthened and undermined by internet dynamics. It
will probably have to evolve into something else because of this increasing
The way the internet strengthens the reliance on beliefs is the ability to
congregate with people who share particular beliefs. "If you are one in a
million, there are a thousand of you online" is the relevant meme. No matter
what the beliefs are, there is a possibility to build an echo chamber (a
support forum) for strengthening, developing, and exploring them, for
creating involved vocabularies to talk about them, and for producing stories
with these new languages. There are studies that show that communicating
with a group of like-minded people makes (social) beliefs stronger and more
radical and, one can also speculate, more entrenched.
On the other hand, communication among people who believe differently may
promote the language (and thus conceptual structures) of thinking rather
than belief, as a lingua franca. For example, I definitely see thinking
meta-values such as internal consistency applied across belief systems.
-- especially be careful of our tribal pulls to believe like them
Deconstruction of authority and multiple authorities address this. The move
is from "Our Tribe" to "my many tribes": the same person can belong to many,
and share some of them with different subsets of people. Frequently, the
same person belongs to multiple somewhat opposing online tribes using
different avatars, or simply uses different avatars for different contexts.
Children are especially prone to change online identities frequently and
often, sometimes maintaining quite a few at a time.
Also, social tools make constructing tribes easy and accessible, which in
turns leads to lowered entry barriers as a whole lot of tribes are
recruiting at once. People approach tribes as something they select or
build, rather they something they are born into.
-- most interesting things are not stories and can't be judged by story
I don't understand this item well enough to comment. I think it is about the
difference between interest as in "shallow curiosity" and interest as in
"significance for cultural progress."
-- have to fight the invisibility of "normal"
Again, the plurality of "normal" make norms more visible, and an item for
discussion, deconstruction and evaluation. Meta-languages for discussion of
norms (e.g. notions of tropes and memes) become a part of everyday
conversations and net games on social sites.
On the other hand, less popular topics, where only relatively few people
work and play, are more prone to invisibility of norms. Unfortunately,
mathematics is such an area at present (very few people, and those somewhat
culturally uniform, generate popular math content online), though this is
Much of the survival value of adherence to previously established "normal"
has to do with either limited resources and the need to distribute them
based on norms, or on limited information processing efficiency and the need
for attenuating the complexity into something "normal" just to deal with it.
The metaphor of the internet as an "unlimited space" with enough place for
any project deconstructs the limited resource mindset. Tools for dealing
with massive amounts of information support the possibility of switching
norms (realities) easier and faster, without information overloads.
-- we need to be super tough about what we provisionally accept as
explanations for anything
I have doubts about this one. We need a gradient of toughness, with relaxed
rules for play, brainstorming and learning activities peripheral to
communities, and increasingly tougher rules for more central activities.
Make math your own, to make your own math.
http://www.naturalmath.com social math site
http://mathfuture.wikispaces.com/ Math 2.0 interest group
> *From:* Maria Droujkova <droujkova at gmail.com>
> *To:* Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>
> *Cc:* Asaf Paris Mandoki <asafpm at gmail.com>; Sue VanHattum <
> mathanthologyeditor at gmail.com>; iaep SugarLabs <iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org>;
> Joshua N Pritikin <jpritikin at pobox.com>; Dmitri Droujkov <
> droujkov at gmail.com>
> *Sent:* Sunday, August 23, 2009 10:04:08 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [IAEP] Physics - Lesson plans ideas?
> On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 12:23 PM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Hi Asaf
>> Among other things, our human brains are set up by nature to
>> -- take the world as it seems
>> -- want to learn the culture around us
>> -- believe (and then try to justify our beliefs)
>> -- especially believe our tribes, from family outwards
>> -- think of most things in terms of stories
>> -- disappear our beliefs into a "normal" which makes it difficult to
>> think in other terms
>> -- desire explanations, but be satisfied with stories as answers
> Early massive exposure to social media can reset some of these defaults.
> The main change is the shift from THE culture to hundreds and thousands of
> cultures, with corresponding meta-reflection on cultural beliefs. Kids in
> their tween years and older, especially more word-savvy girls, pick on
> differences in stories, worldviews and beliefs of different cultures in
> different social sites. They are very aware of differences in what is
> "normal" in different communities, and of abilities of outsiders or enemies
> to deconstruct "mere stories" for aggression (snark, flame wars) or simply
> for the fun of it. There are sophisticated vocabularies supporting these
> endeavors, lists of relevant concepts, acceptable and unacceptable argument
> techniques and so on.
> We need something more like:
>> -- the world is not as it seems
>> -- our culture's views likely have nothing much to do with how the
>> universe is set up
>> -- think instead of believe
>> -- especially be careful of our tribal pulls to believe like them
>> -- most interesting things are not stories and can't be judged by story
>> -- have to fight the invisibility of "normal"
>> -- we need to be super tough about what we provisionally accept as
>> explanations for anything
>> Most parents and teachers I've explained this to are shocked. It's so
>> anti-social and rebellious! This is the last thing most of them want to help
>> their children achieve. (And they are so successful.)
> People who grow up with assumed social pluralism won't be as shocked,
> though. Science principles match the new social order of the "massively
> multiplayer" community scene pretty well.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the IAEP