.ll 72
.fo off
.co on 
.ce ((Editor's comments in double parenthesis - Homer))
.ce ADR - 337
.ce Copyright (C) Homer Wilson Smith
.ce Redistribution rights granted for non commercial purposes
======================================================================== 106
Resent-Date:  Sun, 02 Jul 89 18:40:57 EDT
Resent-From:  Homer 
Resent-To:    mccabe@mtus5,
Date:         Sat, 29 Oct 88 18:59:43 EDT
From:         "Homer W. Smith" 
Subject:      what do you think?
To:           Bodil Branner ,
              "Dr. John Hubbard" ,
              Adrien Douady ,

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

Received: from UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU by CORNELLC.BITNET (Mailer R2.01) with BSMTP
 id 4897; Sat, 29 Oct 88 16:48:41 EDT
Received: by UBVM (Mailer X1.25) id 6656; Sat, 29 Oct 88 16:46:22 EDT
Date:         Fri, 28 Oct 88 09:53:55 CDT
Reply-To:     'FRACTAL' discussion list 
Sender:       'FRACTAL' discussion list 
From:         Nicholas Geovanis 312-996-0590 
To:           "HOMER W. SMITH, ART MATRIX" 

   With regard to Homer Smith's notes of 10/21 and 10/22 about the Eng
quarterly and Cell and the Womb Part 1, let me take what may be an
unpopular stand.
   First of all, I support improved and expanded science and mathematics
education at all levels, just as I support improved education and,
especially, improved educational funding, at all levels. But I'm not
sure that first-graders need to learn about fractals when perhaps a
fifth of all Americans (by a recent presidential commission's report)
are unable to read and write English. Please note that in my experience,
this includes a very large number of white, non-Spanish-speaking
Americans. There is no question in my mind that "innumeracy" may be an
even more severe problem than illiteracy. But this only proves that the
basic tools of arithmetic, geometry and spatial reasoning, and logical
inference are lacking. "Teaching fractals", whatever that means, is not
the solution, and is neither necessary nor sufficient to stimulating
interest in mathematics.
   The hidden value judgement in Homer Smith's notes is that fractal
geometry is absolutely the most important recent development in science,
with applications to psychiatry, political science, etc., etc. Similar
claims have been made for other recents fads in popular mathematics.
For example, does anyone remember the "Catastrophe Theory" flap of
several years ago? It is a useful tool, research work continues, and
it has lived up to few of the claims made for it in the popular press
(hey, I even read about it in the Chicago Sun-Times. Michael Dukakis
has trouble getting written-up in the Sun-Times these days). In my
opinion, fractal objects are intriguing, useful as descriptive models
in many areas of physics (although not always quite so useful as
explanatory models), and sometimes actually beautiful. In my judgement,
however, there are many more important subjects to be taught in our
elementary schools, eg. how to read, how to write, how to reason, what
our original national ideals were, how to respect your fellow human.

                           Nick G.

Date:         Sat, 29 Oct 88 18:34:42 EDT
From:         "Homer W. Smith" 
Subject:      N. Giovanis
To:           FRAC-L@GITVM1

With all due respect, Mr. Giovanis could not be more wrong.

Having shown our fractal postcards and prints to children
of all ages and seen the light in their eyes, I can only wish
that I had had the opportunity to view such things
when I was in kindergarten.

We get comments all the time from teachers about motivating kids.
Its always the same thing.  Kids can not get enough of fractals.
Someone called me up to day and said watching 'Nothing But Zooms'
was almost a religious experience and she could not wait
to get her kids (12 graders) to watch it.

Another lady is even using our postcards as rewards for retarded kids
who normally would receive a toy.  Postcards win hands down.

It gives them something up ahead on their track to look forward
to learning about and gives them reason to learn the basics.

What else is as beautiful in mathematics?  What but Beauty
motivates kids?  Fear?  Dry boring text books?  Whips?

Kids are not learning anything because they are not presented
with anything worth learning.

I will show Mr. Geovanis's letter to Dr. Hubbard and Adrien Douady
and Bodil Branner and Mandelbrot.  Let's see what they have to say.

I have personally read where fractal math is the third greatest
discovery of the 20th century next to relativity and quantum mechanics.

To me fractals should become the logo of the upcoming golden age
of technology.  EVERYONE should know about fractals before they
can speak.

Give them something to talk about.

 Homer               mccabe@mtus5         7/02/89  N. Giovanis