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April 23, 2008

4/23/08 Service Learning

I returned to Mr. Mat's classroom this morning after a week away due to Augsburg-Fairview's schoolwide testing last week. A different rotation of kids was there today. I recognized many of them from earlier in the semester; I think this may have been the first group I worked with back in February. Since they were a new rotation, they were just starting a new unit on statistics. Today, Mr. Mat spent most of the period lecturing on box plots. The kids did a short hands-on penny data collection activity, for which they had to record the dates of a handful of pennies and then translate this data into a box plot. Mr. Mat let them work on their homework toward the end of the period, and I jumped around from table to table offering help getting started. They really seemed to grasp alot of the content well, however, needing very little extensive explanations.

April 19, 2008

Reading 19 "Technopoly" by Neil Postman


1. Skepticism

"If one is to err, it is better to err on the side of Thamusian skepticism," writes Postman on page 5. What he is essentially asserting is his belief that "a dissenting voice is sometimes needed to moderate the din made by the enthusiastic multitudes." (5) Postman sees in our rapidly changing, technology-embracing world today, there are far too many 'Technophiles,' or advocates of technology who can only see what technology can positively do and not what it will undo. Therefore, a healthy level of skepticism is necessary, according to Postman, to avoid negative effects technology will have on our existing social fabric. He illustrates this point by quoting Sigmund Freud, who first discusses the postive aspects of the railroad on commerce, transporation, and communication, and then discusses the negatives of the railroad causing children to disperse from their hometowns and the separation of loved ones. "The benefits and deficits of a new technology are not distrubuted equally. There are, as it were, winners and losers," he writes on page 9, suggesting such skepticism before the embrace of a new technology.

2. Competition

"New technologies compete with old ones--for time, for attention, for money, for prestige, but mostly for dominance of their world-view," writes postman on page 16. Technology, he further asserts, is "neither additive nor subtractive" (18) but ecological in the sense that one significant change generates total change. New technology often cannot coexist with old technology, as the world of technology is an evolutionary Darwinist world of survival of the fittest; a competition for prominence. The losers in this competiton become obsolete and are replaced in the ecological environment of our technological world. "New technologies alter the structure of our interests: the things we think about. They alter the character of our symbols: the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop." (20)


1. According to the views of Postman, technologies are neither additive nor subtractive, but bring about total change. Have new technologies in architecture, such as CAD and 3-D printers, brought about this "total change" in the architectural arena, as Postman's theories would suggest?

2. "In any case, theological assumptions served as a controlling ideology, and whatever tools were invented had, ultimately, to fit within that ideology," explains Postman of the Middle Ages. Could we replace "theological assumptions" with an equivalent in architecture; something which serves as a controlling ideology that forces tools architects adopt for use to fit into it?

April 9, 2008

4/9/08 Service Learning Journal

This morning, Mr. Mat's class was working finishing up their trigonometric graph project that they had just been starting last Wednesday during my tutoring time by using computer-aided graphing software. Today, they were working on hand-drawn graphs to turn in for a final grade. They also have a test tomorrow, so it was critical that they understood all six of the trig graphs thoroughly. I worked with the same table as last Wednesday. They were relieved to see me walk into the room, as they were struggling with getting their paper graphs started. I helped them along, showing them with a graphing calculator what the graphs were supposed to look like if ideally drawn. After some review pointers, they caught on really well and were eventually able to complete the assignment on their own. As always, their kind and appreciative attitudes were uplifting. It certainly makes the pains of rolling out of bed a few hours earlier than normal well worth it to see the real impact you're having on these kids' lives.

April 2, 2008

4/2/08 Service Learning

This morning I returned to Augsburg-Fairview after two weeks of leave for my spring break followed by theirs. It was nice to get the warm welcome from the students and teachers who hadn't seen me in a while. Mr. Matt's class was preparing for a final project dealing with the graphs of trigonometric functions. He issued laptops to students, allowing them to use a program called the Geometer's Sketchpad to sketch and analyze graphs. He went through a tutorial first and then allowed students to work on their own. I helped a table who needed a little help getting the program down and then helped a very polite and eager student compare her graphs and discover what happens when different variables in the 'sin' graph change.