KTM User Pages
09 Jul 2005 - 04:57 Comments page, scroll down for bulleted 'Talking Points') I've just created a new user page, TalkingPointsDiscussion, for discussion of ways to build support among parents and administrators for appropriate math curriculum choices. It's a spin-off from comments on the BarryOnCorePlus thread. Hearts and minds are won in one-on-one conversations, but how to win them without blowing our listeners away with details, or turning them off by ranting? I have a friend that I work with who tells me that when he was working in DC, everyone was insanely busy, and people would have 'elevator conversations' with people they needed to convince of something; that generally your only chance to convince them of your point of view was during the 45-second-long elevator ride down from the 20th floor. That's what we need to work up; some elevator conversations about fuzzy math. Back to main page.
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see also (or return to): Barry's Talking Points page
see also (or return to): Barry's Talking Points page
-- CatherineJohnson - 09 Jul 2005
The Delphi Technique needs to be explained to people as well. The Delphi Technique
The Delphi Technique -- How to Disrupt It
-- LoneRanger - 09 Jul 2005
OH thanks so much! Ralph Raimi sent a couple of emails to Math Forum about the Delphi technique that he didn't want me posting here....and I was trying today to remember what it was called. I'm going to read the second one first. -- CatherineJohnson - 09 Jul 2005
Never, under any circumstance, become angry. Anger directed at the facilitator will immediately make the facilitator "the victim." This defeats the purpose which is to make you the victim. The goal of the facilitator is to make those they are facilitating like them, alienating anyone who might pose a threat to the realization of their agenda. Could someone implant this one deep inside my brain stem? Or...uh...just graft it onto my frontal lobes. Every square inch of my frontal lobes. -- CatherineJohnson - 09 Jul 2005
Suddenly, the amiable facilitator becomes "devil's advocate." He/she dons his professional agitator hat. Using the "divide and conquer" technique, he/she manipulates one group opinion against the other. This is accomplished by manipulating those who are out of step to appear "ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or dogmatic." I had a fun experience along these lines just a couple of weeks ago. I went with my neighbor to a demonstration photography class at The Open Center in New York. Apparently The Open Center didn't want to hire the guy outright, but wanted him to give a demo lesson & see if anyone signed up for the class. So there was a fair amount of pressure on the guy. The Open Center is a 'holistic learning center,' and the demonstration photography teacher was making a lot of quips about 'what am I doing at The Open Center??' and 'Oops! I guess I can't say that at The Open Center' and so on. Two people in the group (of maybe 30 people?) took offense. The Open Center is a bit of a religious-type place I would say; it has a kind of New Age, warm feel to it. So when the demo-teacher kept making quips, he was making quips about a church-like place. The two people who were offended started challenging the demo-teacher, saying things like, 'You've never been here, how can you say that, how can you be so critical?' etc. The demo-teacher flatly denied that he had said anything remotely hostile, which, of course, cranked up the two objectors even more. Meanwhile, no one else there was an Open Center person; they were all just New Yorkers who were interested in taking a photography class. So the demo-teacher triangulated the group against the two. He started attacking them indirectly, in comments directed to the rest of the group. I can't remember what he said, but it was along the lines of, 'Sometimes a teacher is the target of vile statements'... I think he may actually have used the word 'vile'; here was this demo-teacher calling one of his potential students, for whom he was auditioning, vile! And denying he was doing it! So then I jumped in. The truth is, I'm not an Open Center person, either. I don't like The Open Center, to be honest, and The Open Center doesn't like me. I ended up leaving the Betty Edwards class I took there two days early, things got so tense. Oil and water. But that put me in a great position vis a vis the teacher and his triangulation against the two Open Center devotees, because I had zero stake in defending the honor of The Open Center. I just don't like watching a bully. Especially a passive aggressive bully. So each time the demo-teacher made an appeal to the crowd to triangulate against the other two, I would pop up with the observation that yes indeed he was being sarcastic and disrespectful to The Open Center! But that I personally didn't mind, because I wasn't an Open Center person myself. I said this cheerfully, which was easy, because I felt cheerful. The guy wasn't too quick on the uptake. A true Delphic leader would have realized I was trouble and done whatever he needed to do to marginalize me, too. But he didn't. He just kept going. Things progressed to the point where this shmoo actually turned to the class and said, 'Does anyone else in this room think I've been disrespectful to The Open Center?' Talk about giving someone an opening. I shot my hand up. I wasn't a straight-A teacher's pet for 13 years of my life for nothing. WHAM! HAND IN AIR, MOUTH WORKING! 'Yes!' I said. 'Yes! You've been disrespectful to The Open Center.' It was fun. -- CatherineJohnson - 10 Jul 2005
Miss a day or two and you get left far behind at KTM. A year or so ago our school had a professionally facilitated session (3 days) involving teachers and parents that would create a 5 year strategic plan for our schools. I applied and was accepted to participate. In reviewing the agenda for the meetings, I realized that many topics and philosophical assumptions (in spite of it being a strategic plan) would be off-the-table and it also looked like a Delphi setup. I realized that it would be a useless exercise on my part and wrote them a letter saying that I would not participate. I told them that their meeting would not or could not address many of my concerns. I found out later that because it was a strategic meeting, few details were discussed, but then again, many basic assumptions were not reevaluated either - a feel good waste of time; school PR, if you will. General vague responses I have received to critical comments: 1. Yes, we know it is a problem. (But we can't do much about it.) 2. We are working on it. (Don't call us, We'll call you.) 3. Some teachers are going to training sessions over the summer. (We have it under control, thank you very much.) 4. Private schools can do more because the students are "pre-selected". (Meaning that you can't expect us to do more.) 5. We are constrained by union seniority rules. (I have never seen such nice parents get so very angry as when a Reduction-In-Force (RIF) caused a chain reaction, seniority-based, bumping of teachers. This year, many parents signed a petition to remove a known problem teacher. It couldn't be done, so they are dividing up his classes to minimize his damage and to placate the parents.) -- SteveH - 10 Jul 2005
Some other ideas to throw out here: Is it better to try and relate to parents based on how they learned math? Is this a pro- or a con-? Is this a "know your audience" issue? Do most parents feel woefully unskilled at basic arithmetic, fractions, algebra? If so, do you need to approach them differently than those who do feel appropriate skilled in arithmetic? I think, to the right person, this basic argument works: "they are not teaching in a way that allows us to help teach our own kids. They don't teach long division; they don't teach times tables. How can we, as parents, help kids do their homework if they can't teach them along the lines of the basics we were taught?" Now, a lot of parents might feel "well, maybe they know best" but parts of them will resonate with their own feeling of helplessness--and will want to solve it. Now, for those who feel woefully inadequate to teach even basic arithmetic to their own kids, then a different line of thought may be required, a simpler one: "how come it's so hard now for kids to know math? Aren't kids smarter and more sophisticated than ever before? Aren't there education majors and certified teachers? How come the one-room schoolhouse teachers or 85 yr old nuns from 50 years ago were producing kids who knew just as much useful math as we do now?" and maybe in that way, we can at least start the "something is Dreadfully wrong here" and have parents feel confident that they know that is true. -- KtmGuest - 02 Aug 2005 *