## Edward Cherlin: open source textbooks

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• Edward, Yes! Please add my interest, and that of our Minciu Sodas laboratory http://www.ms.lt, to participate in your textbook project. I would gladly work
Message 1 of 2 , Dec 16, 2008
Edward,

Yes! Please add my interest, and that of our Minciu Sodas laboratory
work for you or others to write open source textbooks in math, philosophy,
fighting peacefully or other subjects. I alert others at our lab who
might like to write textbooks.

This semester I've been teaching algebra from my own notes:
which are for teaching math based on the deep ideas behind it. I would
like to write a short book based on that approach. I am thinking to call
it "Classic Math Problems". Each problem would illustrate a particular
idea. I would supplement the text with video and additional materials,
exercises.

So, for example, I tell my students that algebra is the study of "thinking
in steps". And here is a problem that teaches that. Suppose you usually
buy pants in the marketplace because the department store charges
one-third more. But the store is now having a sale, and everything is
one-third off. Where should you buy the pants?

Quite a few people - and sophisticated people - might say that the price
is now the same, for it is one-third off of one-third more. But if you
think through it step by step, then you will see given x, that one-third
more is 4/3 x, and 2/3 of 4/3 x is 8/9 x. So it will be cheaper at the
store with the sale. For the question is "one-third of what?" This one
problem is a good, self-contained point to communicate this idea. It is a
sophisticated problem, but one that you can master. There are many
variants, such as a stock price that goes up 1/3 and down 1/4, or a tax
and a rebate. And if you learn 20 or 30 or 50 problems like that, then
you know all of algebra, or certainly the fundamentals.

Working together I'm sure we'd discover ways to support all manner of
self-teaching approaches and preferences. Myself, I'd like to focus on
self-learning adults (like at our lab) and I'm curious how that compares
with children learning.

I'm also interested in related resources. I've organized my students into
20 teams of 4 or 5 students each. We're collecting quantities (amounts
and units) for a Math Encyclopedia. Each team is working on a dimension
like price, speed, distance, mass.
http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?MathEncyclopedia
My hope is that we'll have 1,000 or 2,000 facts in a few weeks and then
can build from there.

My work and Minciu Sodas's work is in the Public Domain and it would be
great if that might always be an option, if not the default, in your
mission. I wish for a culture centered on ethics rather than law.

Please also know that you can participate at the COMMUNIA meetings in
Europe through our lab. We're a member and we have travel money for our
participants, including from the US. The next meetings are Jan 23 in
Zurich, March in London and June in Turin, Italy. COMMUNIA is, I think,
in need of such projects.

I should learn this week if I'm teaching here next semester.

Andrius

Andrius Kulikauskas
Minciu Sodas
http://www.ms.lt
ms@...

----------------------------------------------

Edward Cherlin:
We have agreement in principle from Creative Commons and Open Learning
previous agreements in principle with Alan Kay of Viewpoints Research,
Doug Engelbart and his Institute at SRI, FLOSS Manuals, Sugar Labs,
and various teachers, researchers, subject-matter experts, and
volunteer groups.

That means we will have a period of planning and organizing to get
through, in which each group considers which parts of the mission to
take on, and how we will support projects and coordinate the work. It
also means that once we have this more detailed agreement, we will
have the high-level contacts we need with Ministries of Education
around the world to talk about contracts. Much of what we do will come
from volunteers, just as in Free Software, but we have a clear
opportunity to become self-sustaining for the long term. That means
not just Earth Treasury, but any of our partners who know something
that we should convey to our students.

So I expect to announce a few more things shortly. In the mean time,
what textbooks would you like to see us tackle? How should we build
them? How should they teach, or perhaps I should say assist in
learning? We have to cover every conventional school subject for every
age, and we need to introduce a few subjects that our children
desperately need, whether they are in the standard curricula or not.
And we have to do it in a manner that brings out the powerful ideas at
the base of each topic, not just the cookbook recipes for getting
Right Answers that far too many schools focus their attention on. We
have to teach children how to decide for themselves what is important,
what is true, and what is real in a world still full of delusion and
error.

Andrius, in particular: Can I interest you in getting paid to write
the best math textbooks ever? Where we tell children the truth about
the Foundations of Mathematics, and don't pretend that math is utterly
perfect? Example: In math we can define "proof", leading to Gödel's
Theorem that there are statements of arithmetic that cannot be proven
or disproven. But we cannot define "truth". If we could, we could
construct a statement that was neither true nor false.
• ... Please add Minciu Sodas to the partner list at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai/Creating_textbooks, and make a page for MS. Also a User: page for
Message 2 of 2 , Dec 16, 2008
On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 7:37 AM, Andrius Kulikauskas <ms@...> wrote:
> Edward,
>
> Yes! Please add my interest, and that of our Minciu Sodas laboratory
> http://www.ms.lt, to participate in your textbook project.

http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai/Creating_textbooks, and make
a page for MS. Also a User: page for yourself. Since this is a Wiki,
you are free to make pages for any ideas or projects that you think
would be appropriate for global education, communications, economic
development, and attacking the real problems we all face. I recommend,
if you haven't done it, that you read Doug Engelbart's papers on the
theme of augmenting collective IQ in order to tackle the world's
biggest problems, and let us know how your ideas and his fit together.
I also invite you to write on these subjects in your blog, or for OLPC
News, Wiser Earth, and the Obama Transition. All three are currently
seeking bloggers and editors.

> work for you or others to write open source textbooks in math, philosophy,

As I read Jean Piaget's constructivist theory, the child must
construct a model of the world out of sense data, using a powerful set
of built-in tools that are, however, subject to various kinds of
error. Among the issues for every child are

o What is real? (Ontology) Ghosts? Nations? Money? Gods?

o What is true? (Epistemology) How do I tell? What do I believe, and
why? What counts as evidence? Where do I suspend judgment?

o What is important? In particular, what should I do even if I don't
want to? (Ethics) Who says? What are the standards? Why?

All of these questions are deeply intertwined, and you will notice
that they inherently do not have Right Answers. Thus the epistemology
of science carries with it ethical imperatives such as truthfulness,
and suspending judgment until there is sufficient evidence to proceed.

> fighting peacefully or other subjects. I alert others at our lab who
> might like to write textbooks.
>
> This semester I've been teaching algebra from my own notes:
> which are for teaching math based on the deep ideas behind it.

Exactly. You and I will have long discussions on these ideas.

> I would
> like to write a short book based on that approach. I am thinking to call
> it "Classic Math Problems". Each problem would illustrate a particular
> idea. I would supplement the text with video and additional materials,
> exercises.

Please consider where we might use this approach, suggested to me by a
physics teacher: Every day, start by writing a problem on the
blackboard, and setting the students to find out as much as they can
about it. It is not necessary that every such problem have a clear
solution, as long as it embodies some clear idea to those who
understand it. Then discuss all of the attempted solutions, and point
out further paths to explore.

> So, for example, I tell my students that algebra is the study of "thinking
> in steps". And here is a problem that teaches that. Suppose you usually
> buy pants in the marketplace because the department store charges
> one-third more. But the store is now having a sale, and everything is
> one-third off. Where should you buy the pants?
>
> Quite a few people - and sophisticated people - might say that the price
> is now the same, for it is one-third off of one-third more. But if you
> think through it step by step, then you will see given x, that one-third
> more is 4/3 x, and 2/3 of 4/3 x is 8/9 x. So it will be cheaper at the
> store with the sale. For the question is "one-third of what?" This one
> problem is a good, self-contained point to communicate this idea. It is a
> sophisticated problem, but one that you can master. There are many
> variants, such as a stock price that goes up 1/3 and down 1/4, or a tax
> and a rebate. And if you learn 20 or 30 or 50 problems like that, then
> you know all of algebra, or certainly the fundamentals.

+1

This is an essential instance of the larger idea of context, reduced
to its bare essentials. Similarly, a measurement is not a number, but
a number on a scale, defined by a unit and a zero point. Thus, for
example, Kelvin and Celsius use the same degree, but 100K is -173C.
Voltage is not an absolute, but only relative to ground or some other
level appropriate to the purpose. Also, numbers in physics are usually
not points on the real number line. They must come with estimates of
precision.

Getting at purpose is one of the harder ideas to work with in a

> Working together I'm sure we'd discover ways to support all manner of
> self-teaching approaches and preferences. Myself, I'd like to focus on
> self-learning adults (like at our lab) and I'm curious how that compares
> with children learning.

The psychology is significantly different, because the adult has a
developed brain, while the child is learning as brain structures
continue to grow.

> I'm also interested in related resources. I've organized my students into
> 20 teams of 4 or 5 students each. We're collecting quantities (amounts
> and units) for a Math Encyclopedia. Each team is working on a dimension
> like price, speed, distance, mass.
> http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?MathEncyclopedia
> My hope is that we'll have 1,000 or 2,000 facts in a few weeks and then
> can build from there.

I can point you to software that is capable of representing the speed
of light in furlongs per fortnight, with error estimates.

> My work and Minciu Sodas's work is in the Public Domain and it would be
> great if that might always be an option, if not the default, in your
> mission. I wish for a culture centered on ethics rather than law.

The standard for OLPC and Sugar is GPL for software, Creative Commons
for content. Our textbooks will contain a great deal of software, and
will be GPLed so that nobody can use them in proprietary products. You
should be aware that there is no legal standing for the idea of
placing materials in the Public Domain. You always own the copyright
on your creations, unless you give or sell that copyright to another.
The best you can do is to grant licenses allowing others to use them
freely. My notion of free use is that you use them for any private
purpose of your own, but you may not deny others the freedom to do the
same in any public use.

> Please also know that you can participate at the COMMUNIA meetings in
> Europe through our lab. We're a member and we have travel money for our
> participants, including from the US. The next meetings are Jan 23 in
> Zurich, March in London and June in Turin, Italy. COMMUNIA is, I think,
> in need of such projects.

I don't think I can make that one, but I will add them to my public
Google calendar, OLPC Event Suggestions. I and others in this movement
have a number of calendars that we need to harmonize somehow. I have
also created one for education grant opportunities, giving application
contribute. The name is Education Grants.

You are invited to XOCamp2 in Cambridge MA, Jan 12-17. I will be
leading a session on textbook design, and I am inviting our other new
partners. Alan Kay will certainly be there, and we can draw in
education researchers teachers, and students.
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XOCamp_2 There is a possibility of funding
for travel.

Do you know about http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/wintercamp/ in
Amsterdam in March? I will be there with a group from FLOSS Manuals.

> I should learn this week if I'm teaching here next semester.
>
>
> Andrius
>
> Andrius Kulikauskas
> Minciu Sodas
> http://www.ms.lt
> ms@...
>
> ----------------------------------------------
>
> Edward Cherlin:
> We have agreement in principle from Creative Commons and Open Learning
> previous agreements in principle with Alan Kay of Viewpoints Research,
> Doug Engelbart and his Institute at SRI, FLOSS Manuals, Sugar Labs,
> and various teachers, researchers, subject-matter experts, and
> volunteer groups.
>
> That means we will have a period of planning and organizing to get
> through, in which each group considers which parts of the mission to
> take on, and how we will support projects and coordinate the work. It
> also means that once we have this more detailed agreement, we will
> have the high-level contacts we need with Ministries of Education
> around the world to talk about contracts. Much of what we do will come
> from volunteers, just as in Free Software, but we have a clear
> opportunity to become self-sustaining for the long term. That means
> not just Earth Treasury, but any of our partners who know something
> that we should convey to our students.
>
> So I expect to announce a few more things shortly. In the mean time,
> what textbooks would you like to see us tackle? How should we build
> them? How should they teach, or perhaps I should say assist in
> learning? We have to cover every conventional school subject for every
> age, and we need to introduce a few subjects that our children
> desperately need, whether they are in the standard curricula or not.
> And we have to do it in a manner that brings out the powerful ideas at
> the base of each topic, not just the cookbook recipes for getting
> Right Answers that far too many schools focus their attention on. We
> have to teach children how to decide for themselves what is important,
> what is true, and what is real in a world still full of delusion and
> error.
>
> Andrius, in particular: Can I interest you in getting paid to write
> the best math textbooks ever? Where we tell children the truth about
> the Foundations of Mathematics, and don't pretend that math is utterly
> perfect? Example: In math we can define "proof", leading to Gödel's
> Theorem that there are statements of arithmetic that cannot be proven
> or disproven. But we cannot define "truth". If we could, we could
> construct a statement that was neither true nor false.
>
>
> ------------------------------------
>
> Each letter sent to Learning From Each Other enters the PUBLIC DOMAIN unless it explicitly states otherwise http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org Please be kind to our authors!Yahoo! Groups Links
>
>
>
>

--
Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai
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