The title is effectively Twitter Math Camp versus ConBravo. Here's why there's a conflict at all:
-Twitter Math Camp. Thu July 25-July 28, 2013. Philadelphia, PA. USA.
-ConBravo! Fri July 26-July 28, 2013. Hamilton, ON. Canada.
|MATH vs ANIME. FIGHT!|
So... what am I doing in late July? Seems like a Pro and Con list is in order, so that's what I'm doing, with the hope that some of you out there (like math Tweeps and Facebook friends) can offer me your input and insights. Let's get the preliminaries out of the way first, so you know about each:
1) Twitter Math Camp started in 2012. It's math educators coming together to talk math. I've never been. So on the one hand, it would be good to try something new, but on the other, I'm not sure it's my thing.
2) ConBravo! started in 2010. It's geek fandom coming together to talk hobbies. I went last year. So on the one hand, I know I'm liable to enjoy it, but on the other, I suspect the offerings will be similar to 2012.
Let's break it down.
|ZIGGY SAYS THE QUARTIC HAS A QUADCORDER. WHAT?|
TWITTER MATH CAMP
Not huge, but it IS crossing the border, and going to an unfamiliar city where I don't know anyone. For four days. Which all costs money. So yeah.
2) Unfamiliar curriculum
Math is universal, yet whenever tweeps start talking CCS and Algebra 1/Algebra 2, my first instinct is one of two reactions. Either "The heck?" or "Guess I'll be over here", neither of which seem helpful at entering rational dialogue if I hear it in person.
3) My personality
I'm not the most social person. I sometimes feel that I go out with friends a couple times a week in part so that I'm not spending my entire life at home, either writing, marking papers, or telling my wife how wonderful she is. It's not that I don't play well with others, it's that I rarely initiate. So hearing about all the wonderful conversations from TMC12 makes me nervous. I also pun a lot, and I don't like beer. I don't know if that's relevant.
4) My technology
My cell phone is now 10 years old, and rarely on. I have no plans to upgrade, in part because I don't want to be one of those people who's all about having the latest app (and I know there's a very real possibility it will happen if I do). I have enough on my plate right now, thanks. So I won't exactly fit in with people who LiveTweet conferences, or even who text.
5) My teaching style
And this is going to need a couple paragraphs. First, about what's trending: For technology, see (4) above, though I do teach on a SmartBoard and post to a class website. I'm on board with standards based grading. I use it, but I suck at marking it, as I've stated previously. I'm also on board with activity based learning. Except I don't use it. I can't handle it. I don't work well in groups, or in the type of chaotic environment that involves using real life data, along with hundreds of theories surrounding a three act problem. (I may well be able to participate, but for those times when I have led these things in class, it's made me faintly queasy. I need more time.)
So what do I bring to the table? I'm very good at explaining things, even if it involves twisting the maths a bit. ("Positive exponent means multiply. Negative exponent means divide." Except we shouldn't teach tricks.) I'm very good at rewriting pop music to have more maths, as a way of engaging the students and getting them to remember vocabulary. (Except memorizing is bad, we're supposed to strive for understanding.) And I write a webcomic series where all of the parent functions have their own avatar. ("When you pull on the bunny ears, the parabola gets thinner.")
In short, I'm very good at doing those things that teachers are not necessarily supposed to be doing in this day and age. But THAT'S what I'm good at, so I'm not about to stop; in fact, I recently presented Musical Mathematics at a local PD.
All this to say there's the very real possibility that I spend a fair bit to travel a great distance only to be the oddball Canadian that causes otherwise interesting or productive conversations to become uncomfortable.
|MY MIND IS A SCARY PLACE. |
YOU REALLY WANT IN THERE?
1) Expanding Math Horizons
Kind of the counterpoint to (2) above, I do want to know more about how mathematics is taught elsewhere, and this would certainly provide an opportunity, as well as the chance to network in person. And do maths, and learn about how others do maths. All of which is liable to help me become a better educator, assuming the government doesn't manage to completely turn me off of the profession.
2) Not the only Canadian there
At least, there were Canadians at the last one, unless I'm whiffing completely at interpreting the "3 countries" involved. So there's a chance someone will know what I'm talking about when I say "MDM 4U". Plus those others can show what a more typical Canadian is actually like, as I hang around in the background.
3) Chance to plug Taylor's Polynomials
I know there's an audience of more than 20 people for this thing, it must be that I'm advertising in all the wrong places. Maybe someone there can at least direct me to the right places. Plus I have all these business cards about "Series 3" to get rid of, as they're becoming dated.
There are more sights to see in Philadelphia than in Hamilton, if it doesn't look like the gathering is panning out. Admittedly, I'd prefer to do sightseeing with my wife rather than solo.
|I JUST NEED A GAZEBO TARDIS, THEN I CAN ATTEND BOTH!|
1) Anime Retread
I'll be at Anime North in May (unless something goes wildly wrong) for the 17th straight year. So I can get my anime fix there, along with possibly any commissions, but see PRO(2) below. Given that, and ConBravo last year, I can't escape a bit of the "been there, done that" feeling.
2) Age Gap
If anything, I think I'm on the fringes of the target demographic. I haven't actually seen a lot of recent pop culture things, and tend to be more interested in the careers of the guests themselves as opposed to what they're actually working on or reviewing. So I likely won't get as much out of it.
Notably a bunch of the Channel Awesome crew, with (I suspect) more to be announced after the early bird cutoff date. Granted, I don't think they can top that I met Linkara last year, but these are people who get paid for doing what they love (full or part time), having basically made a career out of their interests, which is awesome. I love learning more about that sort of person, and seeing what they've got planned.
2) Small venue
|Watercolour by MICHELLE SIMPSON|
3) My personality
It was a Con for TMC, I see it as a Pro here. I can do a lot of sitting on the sidelines and just watching things, which I feel I'm much better at doing than actually participating. There's also something to be said for the familiar environment of a Convention, where I find I do a good job at scheduling myself randomly through a day.
4) My Wife Could Join
She works in software, but could take a half day and a weekend to come along with me (as she does with Anime North). Two days off and all the way to Philadelphia, not so much.
So there it is in a nutshell. Looking strictly at numbers, it might seem like the latter is the winner... but we go by qualitative analysis these days, not quantitative. I think I need further input before the final decision. So, those of you reading, see any point of comparison that I've missed? Please let me know.