I do have an audience of students on the way. I’m not exactly in a lecture hall, as my school is not brick and mortar. Actually, I’m in my “wooden tent” of lathe and plaster. This home is well over a hundred years old and is mostly made of wood.
Wood has been a theme lately, as I just saw The House of Tomorrow, the movie. I’ve not yet read the book. At the center of the plot is this single family geodesic dome, made of wood, in a Minnesota forest. The protagonist, a teen boy, and his grandmother live there. He’s home schooled as Nana wants him to be the next Buckminster Fuller, much as some parents hoped their kid might be the next Einstein.
The problem is (one could say a point of tension), Buckminster Fuller was not assuming wood for home construction would be in plentiful supply. He was aiming to use a lot of recyclable metals, to make a house more like a yurt. A central pillar would hold it up, with cables suspending the two platens, floor and ceiling. The units could be turned out at low cost. His dome would come later in the chronofile and many would be made of wood, including the one in the movie, a classic. However the vision was more aerospace. I take that up in two Youtubes, here linked from my Blogger blog.
There’s a scene in the movie, wherein our protagonist is offered a tutoring position, by his new friend’s dad, the Lutheran church van driver. Since the home schooling to become Bucky had lots of domes in it, as a part of the curriculum, our hero feels confidant he’s up to the job. This looks like nothing more difficult than standard North American 10th grade geometry, very planar, very Euclidean.
As the movie’s audience, we’re not at all incredulous that our next Bucky (the grandma hopes) is able to tutor someone roughly his own age in geometry.
Where the plot could veer, but doesn’t at this point, is right at this juncture of the two male teens becoming friends, with geometry and punk music (a period movie) something they had in common.
The fact that Bucky Fuller spent a lifetime swimming upstream against the overwhelming intellectual currents of his day, with respect to Euclidean geometry in particular, could have turned this into a real egghead movie the college professors might more have enjoyed.
Such a plot twist might have been at the expense of the target audience though. How do you not lose them, when bucking the mainstream? The movie resolves this issue by connecting Fuller’s maverick rebelliousness to punk. Somehow, the torch is passed.
That’s right, Fuller thought the culture was too vested in “right” angles, with words like “normal” and “orthodox” (“orthonormal”) all in the same neighborhood.
Rectilinear meant moral rectitude, four square, on the up and up, a straight arrow.
I watched a John Birch Society lecture on Youtube wherein the speaker decried the shift in meaning, from “square” as ethically upstanding, to “square” as socially awkward. The term “normal” likewise took on more negative connotations. The speaker suggested a nefarious underworld, relative to his, twisting meanings to its own ends. I doubt he new about Bucky Fuller, in Greenwich Village, hanging out with the “beat generation” and reaching conclusions regarding the squares’ geometry, considered normal by them, but not by Bucky.
Synergetics, Fuller’s invented discipline, was all about the “deliberately non-straight” and achieving results by means of side-effects, rather than by directly countering or promoting.
The paradigm rectilinear Box of the Ages, the Cube, was still important in his hierarchy, but was not at the apex. The Tetrahedron was the new king or queen of the hill (should we insist on assigning gender).
The apex tetrahedron’s surface angles were all sixty degrees, although some ninety degree relationships were there: opposite edges (three edge pairs) were (are) at ninety degrees, but don’t share same plane.
In order to provide some more context and background to this story, I decided The School of Tomorrow could be a segue. How about we take tools from today considered futuristic, and feature them as a part of a science fictional school’s curriculum?
I’m thinking specifically of software tools at the moment, because no one gives us a budget for anything so expensive as an actual home. I have my wooden tent. The aerospace industry has opted out of the big, sturdy tent business. Perhaps the bicycle engineers will pick up the slack?
Jupyter Notebooks on Github do not cost a whole lot to produce. I see a low bar to entry, not just for me, but for the vast army of teachers who want to join our free, open source revolution.
We need some infrastructure, an ecosystem, including a personal workspace (like a cubicle) wherein these new resources might take shape. “Act locally, think globally” is what Mr. Spaceship Earth always said. We need private spaces in which to study, alone or with our friends.