Talk:KinderCalculus/Dress

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Rename[edit source]

This terminology is not going to fly with parents. In fact, it will be perceived as a betrayal of the trust that the Wikijunior site is asking parents to put in it. Short, unconventional words are an interesting approach, but this is unacceptable. A different short, unconventional word must be found here. --Pi zero (talk) 11:34, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
On the face of it this does sound slightly sickening, but perhaps it would be smart to manufacture a certain degree of moral panic in order to generate publicity for the book? Recent Runes (talk) 18:01, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
There's nothing good about the publicity this would generate, for the book or for Wikijunior. If we wanted to kill Wikijunior, this would be a good start at it. This specific term has to be changed, and some sort of adjustment must be made to the whole metaphor of which it is an element (removing clothing). I'd like to see this book succeed, and I certainly want to see Wikijunior succeed; this is not compatible with those goals. --Pi zero (talk) 20:04, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
I admit it does not really look age-appropriate or kid-friendly to me, and may even border on profanity according to our definition (words or images that could be considered offensive by typical Wikibooks readers). These may be subjective judgments, but I hope the author takes them into account. Perhaps unpacking or unwrapping a present would be a more suitable metaphor. Recent Runes (talk) 21:36, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm, as an author and a parent, I never thought of it that way. Now that you mention it, I do see the point of your concern. I have 2 children and use this terminology with them, but no pedophile-like thoughts ever crossed my mind. Children draw a sense of power from being a part of a counter-culture. Subversion is a strong source of excitement for them and I thought this was a harmless way to harness it.

I don't suppose you'd agree to the noun form "perverse", whose dictionary.com entry reads

  1. willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.
  2. characterized by or proceeding from such a determination or disposition: a perverse mood.
  3. wayward or cantankerous.
  4. persistent or obstinate in what is wrong.
  5. turned away from or rejecting what is right, good, or proper; wicked or corrupt.

I do think "layer of clothing" is an appropriate analogy. All children can relate to the operational precedence in putting on, or removing a layer of clothing, such as the jacket- shirt->undershirt precedence. But if someone insists on underwear at the mention of children and removing clothing, I do see many Sponge Bob shows where the characters are underwear -- attire should not be a taboo subject. My children are aged 7 & 10 and I am comfortable with this operator precedence in dressing and arithmetic. I believe my moralities are still well placed. Would it make any difference if the diagrams are cartoon-ish like Sponge Bob instead of ascii art, just to put the analogy in better context?

As a last resort, if we cannot come to agreement, I can remove the book out from the children's section. In all seriousness though, I thank you for your alarm and hope you will consider my thoughts. Numiri (talk) 07:45, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Your family life sounds perfectly innocent, but perhaps you could market-test your ideas by discussing them with teachers or other parents at your kids' school. They might bring a different perspective to the matter. Here is a link to some more dictionary definitions for you to consider. I think you will agree that some of the synonyms are quite alarming.
It seems to me that any teacher using related vocabulary would quickly become an object of suspicion or ridicule, or both. Recent Runes (talk) 10:33, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Wow, the thesaurus entry is rather incriminating. For "perverse" thefreedictionary.com has no explicit references to anything sexual -- will that work? I will also ask teachers their thoughts when school is in session. If we cannot wait till September, I can move the book out of the children section. Thank you for your consideration. 67.181.48.20 (talk) 14:33, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

The Cambridge Advanced Learners' Dictionary defines 'pervert' as 'to change something so that it is not what it was or should be, or to influence someone in a harmful way'. Cheerful stuff. Kayau ( talk | email | contribs ) 14:39, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Numiri, this book in any forum (I see transwiki to Wikiversity has been suggested) is not going to get a fair hearing unless it eliminates the layers-of-clothing metaphor. There's a lot of (justified) paranoia that this metaphor engages. In order for your experimental approach to be judged on its educational merits, the layers-of-clothing metaphor would have to be changed to something else. One idea was suggested earlier in this thread by Recent Runes; I'm sure there are others. --Pi zero (talk) 16:21, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't see any reason to change the layers-of-clothing metaphor. Most people wear clothes, what's wrong with that? With respect to "nudifying": That's just what solving for a variable is in this (good) metaphor. It is also part of everyday's life of most children. Talking about it might be a bit of a taboo for some children, which just makes it more interesting to. But since this is part of everyday's life there are no reasons to avoid this analogy here. Concerns about this are what you call them: "paranoia" (Merriam-Webster: 1 : a psychosis characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations; 2 : a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others). (This reminds me of people not using the German word "Unterkörper" (= subfield) because it also denotes the lower part of the body. That was probably the funniest story one of my math profs told.) --Martin Kraus (talk) 21:17, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
The causes behind the distrust are somewhat beside the point (though note my parenthetical oxymoronic adjective above), the point being that the book should take that distrust into account, given that the distrust exists. That's good marketing practice. It might be possible to avoid triggering the distrust reflex with sufficiently agile choices of terms (though I'm skeptical), but the terms right now aren't getting the job done. My sense is that a somewhat holistic solution is needed, rather than just piecemeal adjustments to individual words, even if the somewhat holistic solution were to involve retaining the metaphor (and, still skeptical). --Pi zero (talk) 22:22, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
There is also distrust against eating meat of pigs, showing ones hair, etc. You cannot please everyone. No one else is going to finish this book other than Numiri; thus, the objective here is to come to an agreement about individual words. A plan for a "holistic" solution that pleases you is pointless, because it is unlikely that anyone would implement it. --Martin Kraus (talk) 10:49, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
You are (I trust, without realizing it) inventing hyperbolic positions to attribute to me. --Pi zero (talk) 12:59, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

I think "perverse" and "pervert" is unnecessarily strong. On the other hand, a title such as "peeling" or "reversing" is probably not interesting enough. What about "nudifying"? --Martin Kraus (talk) 19:42, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Or it would be possible to invent totally new nonsense words in the style of Lewis Carrol or JK Rowling. As Wikibooks are supposed to be a collaborative activity not a personal web page, the fact that Numiri may already have used some terminology with his children should not prevent things being changed to improve the book. Recent Runes (talk) 20:46, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
It's a shame we can't expect kids in all relevant audiences to be familiar with babushka dolls. --Pi zero (talk) 22:39, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
For anyone watching this discussion, it should be noted the name of the page was changed to perverse. The page was not moved so this discussion got accidentally hidden. Then, I further complicated matters by deciding to be bold and try rewriting the section. I chose archeology as a metaphor, where you can remove layers of dirt to get down to a bare bones noun (ie a variable). So I am going to move this talk page to the talk page of dress to keep the page and its discussion together. Thenub314 (talk) 10:10, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
Archeology is a worse metaphor: most children wear clothes every day, they don't do that much archeology every day. Moreover, some children at that age might not even know what "archeology" is; are you going to explain it? Furthermore, layers of clothes are around things (like parentheses), while layers of dirt are only on top of each other. And you mixed the "dress" metaphor" with the archeology metaphor. All in all, the current page is a mess. Please undo your changes. --Martin Kraus (talk) 10:49, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
Well I don't think that children do Archeology every day, but the subject of Dinosaurs is sufficiently popular amongst children I thought the analogy might still resonate with them. If it were merely a matter of talking about removing a layer of clothing it might not be so troublesome, but in juxtaposition with phrases like "pervert" or "perverse" it takes on a creepy feeling. I was being bold and trying to make an improvement and I can accept it if people think I failed. On the other hand I don't really intend to put back material I find offensive. I won't stand in anyone else's way if they undo my changes. It is as simple as editing the old page and saving followed by a page move. If for some technical reason something needs to be deleted in order to make way for the move, it can be marked with a speedy and I or someone else will do it. But (in my mind at least) there is a subtle connotation to self reverting that doesn't apply in this situation. Thenub314 (talk) 12:42, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Thenub. Since an early age we're fed with stories with dinosaurs chasing little children and little children waking up and finding that they're dreaming. Later grownups tell us that professionals (they didn't say archaeologists since that's a big word) need to dig up layers of rock to find the dinosaur bones. When I was smaller (like, 3-4 years or so ago) I was really into dinosaurs too, as are most kids. Kayau ( talk | email | contribs ) 13:35, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
One would think the archeology analogy would be very uneven in how well it would work for different kids. It does seem likely that explaining archeology wouldn't work, as it would be trying to make one academic subject more accessible by analogizing it to another academic subject.
The page name is, indeed, mixing metaphors; whatever metaphor/analogy/what-have-you we do ultimately settle on, we'll want to be consistent about it. --Pi zero (talk) 14:21, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
Though I marvel at TheNub314's reformatted math expressions, I side with Martin Krause on the issue of archeology. Mathematical expressions have a complex multi-branched parse tree representing operator precedence. Clothing can offer a more robust, though imperfect, metaphor than layers of dust. If we think of a skier with multiple layers of clothing, his outer jumpsuit can be the root of the parse representing the operator "+" in the example below, then branching in 2 directions into a torso layer of clothing and a bottoms layer. That parse tree would have the same structure as the expression
( sweatervest * ( t-shirt * ( undershirt ) ) ) + ( trousers * ( longjohns / underwear ) )
It's not readily apparent how we would represent this parse structure in layers of dust. Numiri (talk) 06:32, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

I think the controversy may stem from who is talking to kids about the metaphor and not the metaphor itself. If we take the context of a stranger author talking to kids about removal of clothes, then I see how eyebrows can be legitimately raised. If we take the context of parents teaching their kids about dressing themselves, or a teacher explaining the proper order for layering clothing, then I think that everything is perfectly appropriate. So if we

  1. redefine the audience of this book as parents and educators,
  2. move it out of wikijunior because it is now a book for adults on how to teach children, and
  3. propose that parents & teachers use clothing as a metaphor

then I think we can leave it to parents & teachers to frame that metaphor in the right context. Numiri (talk) 06:32, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

I am not so sure, it just comes across as inappropriate to needlessly have perverse, nude, and clothing removal in discussion for kids. We have to be able to find something kids can relate to that avoids this. Since I have seemed to cause some turmoil by just implementing my last idea, I will just throw my next one out for consideration. We might be rephrasing this in terms of opening presents. There are many complicated layers in this process (removing the wrapping, opening the box, taking out the tissue paper, removing the toys packaging before you finally get to the prize). In the case of this page the prize would be knowing what y will equal. One thing I like about this idea is that we can reference back to the previous section by pointing out the best way to get to the prize quickly is to use their "laser/layer" vision to cut through the layers of wrapping. I imagine kids might like the visual of using laser vision to cut through things. Thenub314 (talk) 10:08, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Gift wrapping and unwrapping appears to be a good metaphor. --Martin Kraus (talk) 10:49, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Thenub314, thank you for analogies. As far as I can remember, you are the only one offering substantive alternatives. Believe me, I know how hard it is to come up with meaningful analogies having technical correctness, coherence, and humor & excitement. I remember that it took me a long time to come up with the terms being discussed here. Your previous "dress" initialism is indeed meaningful and coherent.
Gift wrapping does satisfy the technical criteria of the analogy. Though would it be contrived to say that a box contains 2 sister level boxes, as is needed when we want an operator node to have 2 branches representing its operand? Another analogy could be a physical file system, or even a computer file system, with an outer folder containing multiple sibling-level inner folders. This analogy is the most robust parse-tree analogy and easily demonstratable in front of an audience because the props are easy to come by.
Even more seriously, teaching math suffers great challenges: motivation, retention, and subject matter difficulty. The analogy of clothing addresses motivation in a substantive way -- you should see the childrens' faces light up when you mention these subversive terms. From the book's Preface:
Often with children, the silly becomes memorable and the subversive becomes exciting.
There is another term that I've used, have yet to write up, and hesitate to bring it up given the reception of clothing so far. But now that I've sufficiently cushioned it, the term is "blunderwear" -- referring to an underwear type blunder. This term refers to the pitfall that students make when solving equations: they often operate on the inner layer while the outer layer is on, eg. in solving for y
(2+y)/5 = (x+3)/7 incorrectly becomes
y/5 = (x+3)/7 - 2 or
2+y = (5*x+3)/7
The "blunderwear" also have another level of richness in that one can commit "outbound" blunderwear (the 1st error above) versus "inbound" blunderwear (the 2nd error above). Even the term "wedgie" have meaning here and they often have an hernia-inducing laugh about it. I also have a cartoon of it and will try and post it soon. I would hate to lose this terminology set. Cartoons abound where blushing characters have been "nudified" with only a fig leaf cover remaining, or reduced to their smiley-faced boxer shorts **all the time**. No one raised an eyebrow. Again, the issue is presenter and not content. Numiri (talk) 16:06, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
The clothing analogy is, I think, potentially even more subtle in its reception than just who the presenter is; details of exactly how it's presented (by whom) can make all the difference in whether it triggers that "creepy feeling" that Thenub referred to earlier (and, of course, once that feeling is triggered it's hard to turn off). I do take the point that a rich analogy, with lots of potential complexity on which to draw for comparisons, is valuable for this purpose, where the subject being approached through analogy has rich structure. That very richness probably makes the clothing analogy more difficult to use without tripping over the subtle line, because the more one exploits the richness, the more opportunites one has to trip.
The present wrapping/unwrapping analogy, which has a lot going for it in positive associations, seems fairly simple (though I may be underestimating its potential). That's why I thought of Russian nesting dolls, which do have a significant number of levels of nesting; unfortunately they aren't very complex in their relationships either, and of course aren't as widely known (I know about them mostly because my mother has an old one that she used to keep on her office bookshelf). I suppose Russian nesting dolls would work better with infinite recursion anyway, as I was always sort of frustrated when I got to the innermost doll and couldn't just keep going. --Pi zero (talk) 17:12, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Pi zero, I am not aware that Babushka dolls can have sister-dolls at the same level and therefore cannot represent more robust structures. Also, I in completely agreement with your statement that
details of exactly how it's presented (by whom) can make all the difference in whether it triggers that "creepy feeling"
That's why I am making a retraction by saying that KinderCalculus should not be read by children and should be moved to Wikiversity where educators decide exactly how it's presented. Furthermore, the way it's written now, it's more of a teacher's guide than a text book for children. Numiri (talk) 20:15, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

More possible analogies[edit source]

Here are some analogies that Pi zero and Thenub314 and DavidCary came up with: --DavidCary (talk) 23:35, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Russian nesting dolls
  • present wrapping/unwrapping: A big bow around some wrapping paper, around a cardboard box, around two smaller cardboard boxes, one of which contains a big bag full of tiny little cellophane wrappers around candy-coated chocolates.
  • A small note, inside a manila folder, which is with several other manila folders and a writing pad inside another manila folder, which is with a similar manila folder inside a hanging file folder, which is hanging in a file drawer, and four drawers are in this filing cabinet.
  • food: I have several seeds in a orange segment, several segments in a peeled orange, the peeled orange covered in skin makes a raw orange, several raw oranges in a box of oranges, a box of oranges and many other random things in my refrigerator, and two refrigerators in my house.
  • letters and newspapers: I have several characters in a word, a bunch of words in a sentences, a few (often only one in a newspaper article) sentences in a paragraph, several paragraphs in a newspaper article or a personal message, many articles in a newspaper, often one newspaper and several personal messages in my mailbox; often several newspapers and a huge number of books inside a library.
  • bags and tents: I have a huge garbage bag that has been tightly rolled up and crammed into a small zip-lock bag; I have several zip-lock bags and other random stuff inside my backpack; we put a bunch of backpacks and other random things inside a large duffel-bag; the duffel-bag and sleeping bags (which contain pillows) and a few other items stay in the tent while we go hiking.
  • The squirrel runs up the trunk of the tree, then out a main branch, which divides into several major branches, then keeps running out past where they divide into minor branches, and then out past where they divide into thin limbs, then reaches out to the tip where a cluster of pecans hangs.
  • raindrops are drumming on the roof. They combine in a gutter; the water flowing in two gutters combines at one downpipe, and in the other two gutters combines at the other downpipe. The water flows out of the downpipes and across the yard, where it combines with water from other houses at the street. Further down the street, the water falls down the storm drain and combines with water from other streets and runs out into a little creek. The water from several creeks flows into a minor river, a few minor rivers flow into the big river, and at the great confluence two big rivers come together. Downstream from the great confluence, a few tiny creeks flow into the great river before it empties into the ocean.