This article has moved to brucesherwood.net
Many good things on this blog!!
However, my most time-sensitive question is this: Is there anyone out there that has udes/ is using Matter & Interactions at the High School Honors level?
I currently teach a “Phys-Calc” course: a dual-period course that combines Calculus AB and Honors Physics. Most of the students due take the AP Calculus AB exam by the end of the year. Some would like to take the AP Physics B exam, but we currently do not cover some topics in that exam. In the Physics side, we cover Mechanics and E&M but not at the level where it could replace a first-term/year college level Physics course.
We currently use home-grown materials for the Physics side. I have a copy of Matter & Interactions and think it would fit very well with the Phys-Calc course and approach. However, I do not think I have enough time to cover all of the material in Matter & Interactions. The logical (formal reasoning) presentation of the material is great—so good that I don’t want to leave anything out. Without knowing the book in fine detail, I am concerned that skipping certain chapters may leave holes in understanding subsequent chapters.
If there exists some guideline/curriculum-guide that someone has used to effectively move through a high school year with Matter & Interactions, please let me know.
What edition do you have? The preface to the 3rd edition (copyright 2011) contains an extensive discussion of what can be omitted without compromising the approach.
There are a number of people who are using M&I in high school, typically as a second course to follow the standard one. I think that sometimes it is labeled as an AP course, though this is a bit problematic because the AP exam is aimed at the traditional course, where reasoning from fundamental principles (rather than knowing which formula to use) and unification and atoms and computation play little or no role.
If you write to me I can put you in contact with some of these high school teachers.
I actually do have the 3rd edition, but had skipped over the preface as I rushed to peruse the text. However, upon your suggestion, I have read the preface and the section on what can be committed is a great help. This may allow me to build the course to fit our schedule.
> because the AP exam is aimed at the traditional course, where reasoning
> from fundamental principles (rather than knowing which formula to use)
> and unification and atoms and computation play little or no role.
The central theme of the Phys-Calc I have been trying to teach is reasoning from first-principles, and this is exactly what drew me to Matter & Interactions. Once students can practice reasoning from fundamentals, I do not mind given them an AP review packet (at the end of the year) to memorize some formulas if they desire to take the AP for their college portfolios.
By the way, I read “Calculus and formal reasoning in intro physics” on your blog and could not agree more how the shift away from logic (formal reasoning) at the Geometry level has helped remove the connections between formulas (equations, relationships, etc) and meaning. I would add that not only has Algebra become only syntax, but now for many students, the inability to comprehend syntax, in general (because of maturity, learning differences, etc), has them abandoning mathematics. I have also seen how the syntax problem and absence of formal reasoning has contributed to the shift away from rigorous high school Chemistry and the growth of more qualitative studies in Environmental Science (in high school).
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