Anyone browsing a used book store could have gotten attracted to the purple and turquoise cover of a book that might have looked like the long-sought Anthology of English Literature. The casual browser may have gotten more curious and opened the book to find National Geographic-like pictorial essay on Mali’s Dogon tribe and other exotic communities intermingled with an essay on the need for zoos to project a social message.
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The surprised browser checked the cover to discover that the book was Focus on Algebra, from Addison-Wesley. The book had the photo of Bill Clinton and Maya Angelou, who was selected to write a poem for his Presidential inauguration. The casual browser might have even recognized her Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘for I Diiie nestled among the Pythagorean formula and an example of a square root.
A pierced youth manning the cash register identified the book as the one used at his high school. The enthusiastic youth even bragged having studied from the book. However, when quizzed about the name for the graph of the 1/X function, instead of a hyperbola he called it a "heart monitor wave."
This book was developed by the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics, volunteered a proud shopper.
An elderly gentleman was more knowledgeable and informed the inquisitive browser that the new textbooks on science employ teaching by conceptual understanding. The casual browser said, "It is like learning to calculate compound interest by discussing Marxist criticism of free market economy." The grandpa laughed.
The grandpa told the inquisitive browser that the high schools nowadays promote cooperative learning, where students are invited to form groups in order to discuss and teach each other concepts without resorting to a teacher. This particular high school was about to follow the nationally acclaimed grading system where the science students would get credit for wrong answers if the answers were accompanied by a description of “appropriate strategies.”
“Would YOU know the formula for a cardioid?” asked the grandpa.
The casual browser was caught off guard.
“I don’t. But I sure would like to know,” he said.
The grandpa drew a heart shape on the store’s bookmark and inside wrote:
“Season’s Greetings,” said the grandpa and made his way to the antique store next door.
He must have been one of those old-fashioned geeks that designed the Empire State Building using a slide rule and a pencil.