On Reaching Kids

In the classic film, Stand and Deliver, Edward James Olmos poses the original question, “How do I reach these kids?” Olmos portrays real-life Jaime Escalante. Jamie a teacher in East Los Angeles that helped underperforming high school students achieve high academic dreams.

Controversially, at the start of his program, he decided to teach AP Calculus to his students— going straight to a more complicated genre of math instead of building up bit by bit, like is historically done over multiple years.

His approach worked, his students passed their exams, and a movie starring Edward James Olmos was produced to commemorate Jaime Escalante's legacy.

I watched Stand and Deliver in high school. In those days, I would classify myself as undermotivated and underperforming, even though I had good grades. The movie stuck with me and as I've grown and developed my professional skills and my professional career, I began looking back and wondering. “How do I reach these kids?”

One thing that Edward's portrayal of Jamie has inspired in me is going straight for the hard thing. Calculus is not easy math, but all the other math is tucked inside of calculus.

Typically, that's why other math is learned first. When calculus comes, you can just learn calculus and not all other math at the same time. However, with time and persistence, the other math can be learned “on the job” so to speak.

Hello. My name is Tyler Childs, Sillyz.Computer entrepreneur. I'm developing the simplified future of computing, an advanced form of mathematics that bundles all the more fundamental computer math, or programming, into one QR code.

At the surface, many students may just scan the QR code and complete their tasks and assignments on any smart phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. However, students that study my architectural subsystems will find the QR code includes the instructions for a new form of computer.

Why a new computer?

There's a trope in technology circles where software engineers that are serious enough about their math will eventually get into hardware when they discover the bottleneck to performance is physics.

What does that mean?

Think about the fastest computer in the world. That computer can do some pretty smart things. To do smart things, someone needed to load it up with a brain. Computers all do math to think, making math effictively the brain of the computer.

Which math programs the computer is taught determines how quickly the computer is able to think. How quick the computer can think determines how many things the computer can think about.

There's a funny term in computer circles called “headless”, which is not equivalent to “brainless” and probably would be best described as removing the face from the computer in favor of connecting the brain directly to the nervous system and using the energy saved from not having sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and a soul, to be able to think even harder about more math.

Okay. So why a new computer?

There's a board game called “The Game of Life” and in this board game players navigate life choices, like going to college or starting a career immediately out of high school. They spin a wheel and land on tiles and experience mishaps and fortunes, marriage, home ownership, retirement and maybe a few children along the way.

There's a math puzzle by John Conway called “Conway's Game of Life” and in this game generations of cells are simulated to produce visualizations of life and death over time. Any given cell is influenced by neighboring cells. Too few cells and it will die from a lack of resources. Too many cells and it will die from overcrowding. Just the right amount and it'll survive and possibly even reproduce with a neighbor to form a new neighbor.

There's an addage by Melvin Conway called “Conway's Law”, that states that the design of any given system will reflect the commincations structures that designed them.

I posit that the insides of our computers look less like children's classrooms and more like the partnership network of Silicon Valley. I posit the test scores of the math problems these companies want your children solving for them on the computer is different than the test scores your children need to solve to design computers in the first place.

By children designing their own computers in classrooms, they will pick up more than just calculus. Along the way, they'll learn digital autonomy, gain self-directed agency, and shape the future of computing as the hyper space is still vastly unexplored.