Newsletter #29     Article on Project SEED

I was asked the other day why no newsletters, and I replied "No news", which certainly has an element of truth to it. On the other hand, it is also in part because I have been preoccupied with another hunk of prose which, it comes to me, has a sphere of interest largely intersecting that of the newsletters. On the other hand, at five pages it is definitely beyond the limit I have set myself for mass mailing, so instead of just hurling it onto the e-waves I shall describe the paper and various ways of getting hold of it.

A few weeks ago in the course of casual conversation, Jim King commented, "I keep hearing you and Ramesh and Steve and some others refer to Project SEED, and it obviously has some significance, but I have NO CLUE what it is!" And with that I was off and running, because it has indeed a huge significance, and even I had never sat down and traced it through.

The nutshell version is this: In the early seventies, we had in Seattle a branch of a project which was originated in Berkeley by a man named Bill Johntz. It took university level mathematicians into inner city elementary schools to teach algebra by group discovery. The results were spectacular. Unfortunately, the project was on federal soft money which, according to at least some studies, is awarded in inverse relationship to the effectiveness of the project. So after two years and a bit it collapsed. Out of its ashes arose the remedial program at U.W., through which the mathematics department and the Office of Minority Affairs have jointly ushered many hundreds of students (most, though not all, members of underrepresented minorities) who would otherwise not have been able to complete degrees at the university. In conjunction with that (out of the same ashes??? hmmm) there arose also a program of teaching graduate students to teach by group discovery, thereby enriching their skills in the professoriate (not to mention their job prospects.) And it's all been going on for so long that the ashes have become invisible, and my comment that having been director of Seattle's SEED project qualifies me as grandmother of the remedial program cuts no ice at all. So I wrote it all up, and even gave it a title: "The Impact of a SEED Project". Then, with furrowed brow and tongue hanging out, I attached it to my homepage, where it has an address of

On the other hand, although it felt to me as if I were the last person in the world to catch onto the Web, I suspect that I wasn't really. So if you are where I was a few short months ago vis-a-vis Web (I think it's called nowheresville!) and if you would nonetheless like to find out more about the nut that was in this nutshell (no, I don't mean me), you have only to send a "Yes, please!" type message and I have it ready to ship at the flick of a "send" button.