Is this beginning of the end of the traditional model of mathematics education?
This advert for PhotoMath gone viral: and enjoys an enthusiastic welcome.
Mathematical capabilities of PhotoMath, judging by the product website, are still relatively modest. However, if the scanning and OCR modules (“OCR” here refers to “Optical Character Recognition”, not to the well–known examination board). of PhotoMath are combined with the full version of Yuri Matiasevich‘s “Universal Math Solver“, it will solve at once any mathematical equation or inequality, or evaluate any integral, or check convergence of any series appearing in the British school and undergraduate mathematics. Moreover, it will produce, at a level of detail that can be chosen by a user, a complete write-up of a solution, with all its cases, sub-cases, and necessary explanations (with slight Russian accent, but that can be easily fixed).
In short, smart phones can do exams better, and the system of mathematics education based on standard written examinations is dead. Perhaps, we have to wait a few years for a formal coroner’s report, but we cannot pretend that nothing has happened.
In my opinion, a system of mathematics education which focuses on deep understanding of mathematics and treats mathematics as a discipline and art of those aspects of formal reasoning which cannot be entrusted to a computer is feasible. But such alternative system cannot be set-up and developed quickly, it is expensive and raises a number of uncomfortable political issues. I can give an example of a relatively benign issue: in the new system, it is desirable to have oral examinations in place of written ones. But can you imagine all the complications that would follow?
PhotoMath gives a plenty of food for thought.
An embedded link to YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHAuGA7gqFU :
From Charles Walkden, University of Manchester:
It’s free to enter and is open to everybody. There are some great prizes for you to win: film posters signed by the cast, DVD bundles, soundtracks, etc, The competition runs until 14th Nov.
Please can you spread the word to anyone and everyone (and feel free to take part yourself!).
PS: The School’s annual `Alan Turing Cryptography Competition’
will run again from Jan 2015, with registration opening on 1st Dec. Unlike the Imitation Game competition, this is only open to school children in Year 11 or below – but again please spread the word!
Andrew, Charles, Kees, Sebastian, Helen
R. Hanson, National Assessment Reform – Where are we now? The De Morgan Gazette 5 no. 5 (2014), 33-39.
This short report summarises the pending changes to national assessment at 4/5, 6/7, 10/11, 15/16 and 17/18. It attempts to list the key concerns about the reforms and to describe the likely imminent calls for modifications.
It can also be downloaded as a word document here:
National Assessment Reform Where are we now 1 Sept 2014
If you have any questions you can contact the author.
Mobi Snoodles, September 2014 Newsletter
Subscribe and read archives
Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook | Google+
Hi, I am Moby and I bring you the news about Natural Math. Send me your questions, comments, and stories of math adventures at email@example.com
In this newsletter:
- Math coloring pages and other activities to try
- Math Future live online meetings for teachers, parents, and teens
- Math Storytelling Day stories
Math coloring pages and other activities to try
BugFest is a big annual celebration of insects and crustaceans at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, attracting some 35,000 visitors to its hands-on learning centers – for example, to explore fractals in nature at our table. We miss you already, BugFest friends, and hope to see you again next year! Huge thanks go to the amazing kids who liked our activities so much that they taught them to others. The two most popular activities at the BugFest were insect-themed coloring pages and origami.
As it happens with most viral stories in social media, the provenance of this picture (at one point published in chinaSMACK) is hard to trace:
Can someone please comment on it?
From BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29342539 :
Low-level, persistent disruptive behaviour in England’s schools is affecting pupils’ learning and damaging their life chances, inspectors warn.
The report says too many school leaders, especially in secondary schools, underestimate the prevalence and negative impact of low-level disruptive behaviour and some fail to identify or tackle it at an early stage.
Source: Poll conducted by YouGov for Ofsted, http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/news/failure-of-leadership-tackling-poor-behaviour-costing-pupils-hour-of-learning-day
This is one of many low-level school issues that affect undergraduate mathematics teaching. In a mathematics lecture, weaker students are more prone to “loosing the thread” than in most other courses. Also, students for whom English is not the first language, in particular, most from overseas are more sensitive to the signal-to-noise ratio than natives, and, at a certain level of background noise, their understanding of the lecture becomes seriously degraded. In my opinion, this is one of many neglected issues of undergraduate mathematics education. I in my lectures always insist on complete silence in the audience (and usually start my first lecture with a brief explanation of the concept of signal-to-noise ratio).
Many mathematicians believe that that their brains continue to do mathematics during sleep. A paper
Kouider et al., Inducing Task-Relevant Responses to Speech in the Sleeping Brain, Current Biology (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.08.016
Proves that brain continues in sleep some mental activities of the day.
From the summary of the paper:
using semantic categorization and lexical decision tasks, we studied task-relevant responses triggered by spoken stimuli in the sleeping brain. Awake participants classified words as either animals or objects (experiment 1) or as either words or pseudowords (experiment 2) by pressing a button with their right or left hand, while transitioning toward sleep. The lateralized readiness potential (LRP), an electrophysiological index of response preparation, revealed that task-specific preparatory responses are preserved during sleep. These findings demonstrate that despite the absence of awareness and behavioral responsiveness, sleepers can still extract task relevant information from external stimuli and covertly prepare for appropriate motor responses.
The paper generated a huge response in mass media: BBC, New Scientist, NBC News. It is mentioned in this blog because the study of brain activity is relevant to mathematics education. A naive question: do our students get enough sleep?