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To what extent is this site aiming to be inclusive of math educators of pre-university children?

Because, at the moment, most of the questions sound as if they're assuming a college/university context.

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  • $\begingroup$ The impression from many of the comments, no, K-12 math educators don't seem to be included $\endgroup$ – user106 Mar 14 '14 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Amaterasu: I'm under the impression that you are alienated by some comments, most of which are done by one single person. This is only the first day of this SE site, so we are still in the process of shaping this community. I can only encourage you to stay, participate and voice your concerns, even if there are some people who do not share your opinion (and maybe even express this in an impolite way). $\endgroup$ – Roland Mar 14 '14 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Roland I do not intend being impolite, as I have said - I have erred in my understanding of this site's purpose, best to nip this in the bud, so to speak. $\endgroup$ – user106 Mar 14 '14 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Helios: The "impolite way" was not referring to you, but to the style of remarks which seemed to alienate you. $\endgroup$ – Roland Mar 14 '14 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ This thread looks sort of like a minefield. I suspect K-12 teachers might see what's left here as an invitation to go elsewhere. Maybe accepting a positively inclusive response would help? $\endgroup$ – adamblan Mar 15 '14 at 22:11
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My impression is that the community is what we make it. Let's make it inclusive, Michael!

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    $\begingroup$ I have downvoted this answer. Here's an anecdote from personal experience: I was pushed away from MathOverflow, as almost every single question I asked was deemed to not be up to the standards of the website. At first, I interpreted this as "I am not welcome", but with time and after consideration, I have come to accept this as "I have a lot to learn, and I can get more out of MO by participating by reading, commenting and voting, rather than flooding the site with novice questions". In short, inclusiveness should not be our standard, quality should. $\endgroup$ – user89 Mar 14 '14 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ Importantly, we must realize that quality and inclusiveness are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, focusing on inclusiveness alone often reduces the benefit for all parties involved, and further engenders elitism in circles of experts, who decide that they would rather focus on participating in groups where quality is the standard, rather than where inclusiveness is the standard even if it means (as it usually does) that such forums have severely restricted public access. $\endgroup$ – user89 Mar 14 '14 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ I have the opportunity to be able to observe experts in action at a site like MO, because they haven't all been pushed away behind walled gardens due to false notions of "inclusiveness". I would like to help develop ME.SE with a similar standard of quality as MO takes. $\endgroup$ – user89 Mar 14 '14 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ "...quality and inclusiveness are not mutually exclusive" This makes me puzzled why my response that we should make this community inclusive, to a question about which educators are included, would get a response like this. I will be one of the first to (hopefully gently) insist on quality. Michael didn't complain about a downvote, he asked if K12 teachers were welcome. I say yes. What is your response to his question? $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Mod Mar 14 '14 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ @twirlobite University math professors have essentially no training in math education. $\endgroup$ – Brian Rushton Mar 14 '14 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianRushton Which is IMO why this site could become extremely valuable. $\endgroup$ – Nico Burns Mar 14 '14 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ +1 It's rare for me that a one-line answer is my favorite one, but here we are! $\endgroup$ – benblumsmith Mar 15 '14 at 13:02
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I think that k-12 educators should absolutely be involved in this site. We are all mathematics educators, and the cross current of ideas in both directions can only be good for the community as a whole.

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  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. To foster this, should we encourage questions to be tagged with the appropriate grade level about which they are querying, or to at least make this clear in the post? The only downside might be that we could really have three duplicates of every calculus question, geared towards high schoolers, college non-majors, and college majors. $\endgroup$ – Brendan W. Sullivan Mar 15 '14 at 4:10
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    $\begingroup$ We could encourage tagging of those questions that are specific to grade level. $\endgroup$ – Mike Shulman Mar 15 '14 at 5:31
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I am a university professor with school age children. My impression is that while my children's teachers may not have the same depth of knowledge of the subject matter, they are often thinking more clearly than me or my colleagues about the psychology of motivation and learning. I think that there is a lot of scope for productive discussion between university teachers and pre-university teachers, and I hope that this site will become a good forum for that.

As an aside, 'K-12' is a US term. I hope very much that this site will attract users from many other countries (for example, there seems to be evidence that Finland and China have been very successful in teaching pre-university mathematics). I don't think we can reasonably expect US users to abandon the terminology that they find most natural, but it would be useful to have a dictionary of different systems somewhere.

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  • $\begingroup$ What would be a better term? I suggest "high school teacher", which is also understable in Germany (where I come from) $\endgroup$ – Markus Klein Mar 15 '14 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkusKlein: But (in the US) "high school teacher" excludes K-8. $\endgroup$ – Mark Meckes Mar 15 '14 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ +1 I am very much hoping this site can become a productive forum for conversation between K-12 and university level math teachers. $\endgroup$ – benblumsmith Mar 15 '14 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ @benblumsmith, along with those of us in between (community college). $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Mod Mar 15 '14 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ Yes! And adult educators and teacher educators and education researchers and and and... $\endgroup$ – benblumsmith Mar 16 '14 at 1:59
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I think our goal is to include discussions of both K-12 and university-level topics. Right now, most the questions seem to be about college teaching, because that's what most of the current users of the site are involved in.

I suspect that this has to do with how the site was advertised. Advertisements were posted on the Math Stack Exchange as well as Math Overflow, both of which are frequented primarily by university students and university professors. I raised this issue during the definition phase for the site, but no one suggested any place that we could advertise the site to attract more K-12 teachers.

This situation is unfortunate, because without enough questions on K-12 topics, this site is unlikely to attract enough K-12 teachers, which means there won't be enough questions on K-12 topics, and so forth. We need to work on rectifying this problem as soon as possible, or it will become self-sustaining.

One thing that everyone can do to help is to try to ask questions that would be relevant for K-12 teachers, and to try to include a K-12 perspective when answering questions. It might also help to upvote questions and answers that consider a K-12 perspective.

Finally, I'd like to encourage any K-12 teachers who are currently on the site to ask as many questions as possible, and to try to add a K-12 perspective to discussions. In the long run, the only way to attract more K-12 teachers to the site is to have content that's relevant for K-12 teachers, which means that we have to concentrate on producing such content during this beta phase.

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  • $\begingroup$ Jim, I'm new to Stack Exchange communities but very well-connected among math bloggers. If I may invite K12 teachers on twitter, I think I can get quite a few. We're in private beta stage. How does inviting work? $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Mod Mar 14 '14 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @SueVanHattum Wonderful! As for the logistics: during private beta, users must create a Stack Exchange account and log in before they can view the site. You could try advertising now (using the URL matheducators.stackexchange.com/users/login is probably best), but maybe it might be better to wait until the beta becomes public, which ought to happen in a week or two. $\endgroup$ – Jim Belk Mar 14 '14 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ I just asked on twitter for help from K12 folks seeding this site with good questions and answers . $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Mod Mar 15 '14 at 6:22
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Given the fact that most math professors have no formal training in education, the real question is,

Should we lower our standards and accept answers from university professors?

(Just kidding. But seriously, all ages are appropriate).

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this is kidding! I think this is absolutely correct. As far as pedagogy goes, the teachers are way ahead of us university folk. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Stacey Mar 15 '14 at 20:43

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