View Full Version : Interesting Paper About Teaching Elementary Math

PetVet

08-05-2013, 09:24 AM

Not sure if I linked properly on iPad, but I found this paper very interesting.

The Story of an Experiment, I-III (http://www.ithaca.edu/hs/mathcs/compass/storyI-III.htm)

"In the first place, it seems to me that we waste much time in the elementary schools, wrestling with stuff that ought to be omitted or postponed until the children are in need of studying it. If I had my way, I would omit arithmetic from the first six grades. I would allow the children to practice making change with imitation money, if you wish, but outside of making change, where does an eleven-year-old child ever have to use arithmetic?"

"I feel that it is all nonsense to take eight years to get children thru the ordinary arithmetic assignment of the elementary schools. What possible needs has a ten-year-old child for a knowledge of long division? The whole subject of arithmetic could be postponed until the seventh year of school, and it could be mastered in two years' study by any normal child."

dbmamaz

08-05-2013, 09:41 AM

ugg, i hate articles like that. Why bother teaching kids to read? Why does any child need to know history? what does the author think we SHOULD teach to kids?

not knowing how to add or divide before middle school would certainly make it hard to master pre-algebra before 9th grade, and more and more schools are pushing algebra down to 8th grade

Ridiculous. Math is a language and early exposure and practice is the key to fluency.

PetVet

08-05-2013, 10:14 AM

lol - as a frustrated unschooler, i love articles like this ;) why bother shovelling it in for eight years if they can learn it all in two when they are ready? why not use the time to do other things?

seriously tho, i'm quite thanful that, as a HSer, i don't have to concern myself with what schools are doing and/or when they are doing them. personally i think there is way too much emphasis placed on computing skills and not enough on thinking skills, so i found myself nodding my head while reading parts of it

RachelC

08-05-2013, 10:35 AM

I do agree with his assertions that the majority of mathematics can be learned in two years or so, if a good foundation has been laid as far as number sense, ability to reason, and some general attitudes about learning and taking on challenges. And I have seen what he describes as far as computational ability with no practical understanding many, many times. Many of us have: this is why people, in general, suck at 'word problems.' They only understand the math in one context, and cannot apply it to various situations, even when only simply addition is needed.

Of course, there are problems with his theory, like the fact that he did the testing. It would have been more meaningful if an outside source had been questioning the children. Still, interesting results. Not exactly surprising, but I did find it kind of inspiring. He does stress the importance of reading, Cara. And talking. Reasoning. Real world stuff.

dbmamaz

08-05-2013, 11:19 AM

i cant make it through the article. but its clearly about the WRONG kind of math instruction. number sense and really UNDERSTANDING math is much more important than memorizing facts.

I'm a big proponent of living math and of teaching ALL subjects at a rate the child can absorb it. But i hate making math a scape-goat.

the article was written 80 years ago when everything was about memorization.

and remember - math is my favorite subject. i would much rather skip history and science and just study math

hockeymom

08-05-2013, 11:42 AM

I'm with Cara. I would have a miserable child on my hands if he couldn't do long division in his head at random points in the day--he has a very, very big need and it's truly relevant in the way he sees the world. No other 10 yo has that need? Give me a break. How do they figure out cost comparisons, or what their average mileage per hour on their bike was, or any number of other important things if they haven't been given access to the world of numbers?

The same argument could made for poetry, or any other number of things. Just because I personally don't find a lot of value in poetry (don't throw tomatoes! I'm making a point!) doesn't mean that the word lover should be denied. For the child who experiences through words, an early study of poetry can give her world all kinds of meaning, a place to hang her coat and stand firmly. What educator has the right to deny that? Who has the right to draw arbitrary lines regarding our kids' education?

murphs_mom

08-05-2013, 12:10 PM

Can we agree that much of this is about bias, either for or against math? Those who aren't too fond of math are going to jump at this kind of article (didn't read it, btw...just assuming what's in it), whereas someone who adores all things math will pshaw it. It is what it is...just a viewpoint.

To answer Cara's question about reading: of course kids need to read before they need to be able to do math. They need to be able to read signs, directions (on the toothpaste tube, for example), and to just function. There are those who are good at compensating for a lack of ability to read, but the majority who can't read well will not function as well as those who are capable readers. IMO, reading is a critical life skill. Algebra? Not so much. It depends on one's career path. History? It's nice to know the stories and primary figures, but most kids won't remember the stuff anyway. It's why there was so much review in history courses when I was in school. I know lots of people who can remember the names Constantine, Frederick Douglass, or Sir Walter Raleigh, but they probably can't give any specifics on the who/where/why. Sometimes things are taught before the mind is ready to retain and use the info. If that was the point of the linked article (again, I'm assuming it was), then I have to agree with it somewhat.

Again, just an opinion, I think way too much higher math is being crammed down the throats of youngsters before they're ready. We spent years in elementary school working on adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing; pre-algebra material wasn't introduced until we were in the 7th grade. By the time we got to pre-algebra, the majority of us had a firm lock on basic math skills. When I saw that DD's 2nd grade workbook had pre-algebra stuff in it (order of operations, for example), I nearly died. I was talking with a friend who's half French & half Moroccan (moved to the US when she was 18yo), and she said they didn't introduce algebra in Morocco (where she spent most of her teen years) until "there's hair under their arms". I laughed when she told me this...but I could see the logic behind it. In her experience, until the brain has developed enough to understand abstract concepts (teen years, IOW), there's no point in trying to teach the material. Granted, she's 52yo now and things might have changed in France and/or Morocco, but the logic still holds. Why are we cramming higher math down the throats of kids who still haven't mastered math basics?

We shelved DD's math workbook here for quite some time while she did printed sheets to build her adding, subtracting, and mult/divide skills instead. DH and I agreed that we didn't want her delving into algebra, geometry, or trig until she had a firm lock on the basics. I love that, as HSers, we have that option. And I love that kids who are math lovers can zoom into algebra at 6yo if they're ready for it. My 7yo thought long division was "magic" when she did it, and she continues to love it. Yay for her? I would never dream of placing that expectation (love and understanding of long division) on any other 7yo, though. Everyone learns at their own pace; we're naturally going to zip ahead in those disciplines we love and have an interest in, and some will lag in those areas that leave us bemused (for me, advanced algebra). I wish schools functioned on that premise...let kids progress based on ability, not age. But they don't. HS, however, can. :cool:

farrarwilliams

08-05-2013, 12:31 PM

It's an old, old paper. People have been citing it for years. I think it's really important to note that he didn't do nothing with those kids for those years. They did a lot of sneaky math and a lot of logic and so forth. They were prepared in a lot of ways for that single year of learning more formal math.

RachelC

08-05-2013, 12:53 PM

Can we agree that much of this is about bias, either for or against math? Those who aren't too fond of math are going to jump at this kind of article (didn't read it, btw...just assuming what's in it), whereas someone who adores all things math will pshaw it. It is what it is...just a viewpoint.

Not really accurate, as I LOVE math. Like, really, really love it. Which is why it bothers me so much that the majority of ppl don't like it, hate it even, and are 'bad' at it. I think this article highlights most of the reasons this is true- mathematics taught in isolation without any real connections. Now, that is exactly how I was taught math, but for some reason it clicked for me and a love affair began. Like hockeymom's son, maybe, it just works that way for some ppl. But for most, that does not seem to be the case. I am all for doing something different with my children so that they don't end up scared of or resisting one of the most beautiful subjects on earth ;)

PetVet

08-05-2013, 01:22 PM

.

Again, just an opinion, I think way too much higher math is being crammed down the throats of youngsters before they're ready. We spent years in elementary school working on adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing; pre-algebra material wasn't introduced until we were in the 7th grade. By the time we got to pre-algebra, the majority of us had a firm lock on basic math skills. When I saw that DD's 2nd grade workbook had pre-algebra stuff in it (order of operations, for example), I nearly died. I was talking with a friend who's half French & half Moroccan (moved to the US when she was 18yo), and she said they didn't introduce algebra in Morocco (where she spent most of her teen years) until "there's hair under their arms". I laughed when she told me this...but I could see the logic behind it. In her experience, until the brain has developed enough to understand abstract concepts (teen years, IOW), there's no point in trying to teach the material.

i agree.

i actually came across the paper when researching what to do with DS9 between arithmetic and prealg, as many suggest that even most advanced students won't be able to fully make use of AoPS curriculum ('own it') until approx 11yo.

science is my personal fave, but problem solving math a close second :)

dbmamaz

08-05-2013, 01:31 PM

have you looked at livingmath.net?

PetVet

08-05-2013, 02:15 PM

have you looked at livingmath.net?heading there now. thanks! :)

murphs_mom

08-05-2013, 03:14 PM

I am all for doing something different with my children so that they don't end up scared of or resisting one of the most beautiful subjects on earth ;)

Ah, see. There's my point. YOU feel that higher math is one of the most beautiful subjects on earth. I feel it's just a tool. A necessary evil for some. I'd much rather listen to someone lecture on history, literature, art, music, science...almost anything other than higher math. But that's me.

We're all different; most of us have something that comes easy and something that we struggle with. Math, science, English, history all come easy to DD. She struggles with social stuff. Some kids find the social stuff to be second nature, but they may struggle with academics. It's about wiring, IMO. We're not all wired the same. Because of that, I find it absurd that we have the same expectations for every person at every grade level.

The guy wasn't suggesting that we forego teaching math forever and ever, was he? Just hold off on some of it until most kids are ready to process it. Is that really such a horrid idea? There's nothing stopping the mathematically gifted from pursuing it on their own time, is there?

dbmamaz

08-05-2013, 03:44 PM

well, at one point he said no math until middle school, but later he said until mid-3rd grade. but again, i dont think he was talking about playing with manipulative, he was talking about rote memorization of math facts primarily. tho he also mentioned that some kids were held back from 3rd grade due to not passing math exams. and he did not mention if he was teaching in an underprivileged area.

and if he's saying not to include math in the curriculum at all? well, hey, you could read about history at home as well as i could do math at home, right?

murphs_mom

08-05-2013, 03:59 PM

I'm opposed to rote memorization of ANYthing. Blech.

CatInTheSun

08-05-2013, 04:34 PM

With my eldest I erred a bit on letting her accelerate too far too fast, with my second I'm definitely paying the price of letting her wait too long, so right now I think the "wait and cover it faster" has a special place in my crapper box because it neglects the fact that younger kids (4-7) just LOVE to learn. period. FACTS for facts sake. Trying to get an 8yo to buckle down on math facts when you start hitting that sulkiness or wait later and hit the pre-puberty and puberty stuff? Yuck. By then you want to be engaging their brain that is firing all this abstract awesomeness with application of FUN math. NOT the time IMO to make math tedious.

So basically, I think this misses everything we know about developmental psychology, everything we know about math, and everything we know about individuals. What is DOES get correct is the idea of American style education of teaching boring math for 12 years and shoving stuff earlier and earlier hoping it will stick is horrid. The benefit of homeschooling IMO is NOT just wholesale "waiting" but the ability to be responsive to your child. If they get it in 5 problems, do 5. If they need more, do more. If they like to do diverse topics to keep it interesting, do it (most do).

I'm sure I'll have it just right by my 4th or 5th kid. Unfortunately, I've only got 3 kids, so one more try. haha Since he's 4.5yo and has most of his math facts memorized (adding hugs and kisses thru 20), you can tell what I think about waiting on arithmetic. But again, that's his nature -- he's been adding and counting forever, and writing math probelms on the board before he could write his name.

BTW, you do NOT need to read to learn math -- most preschoolers spend most of their playtime "doing math" -- counting, sorting, comparing -- it's all math. :) Math is the language of the mind, and if it doesn't click it's because someone is trying to make you think in their native language instead of helping you find your own voice. It owuld be like someone trying to teach you to write by making you write like Shakespeare instead of like...you.

farrarwilliams

08-05-2013, 04:54 PM

Yeah, I wasn't sure why anyone would say reading should happen before math. Math can totally happen before reading.

And sure, math is a tool, but there are just a small number of really essential tools we teach our kids - how to interact with others, how to perform practical tasks like cooking and cleaning, how to use technology, how to read well, how to write clearly, and how to do elementary math. It doesn't get more basic, life skills that those to me. So I don't know why it should matter if we like it or not.

Not everyone has to like every subject. But since we influence our kids SO much with our attitudes, I think it's worth trying to hold them back and not be hostile to a subject having beauty for our kids.

I have mixed feelings about delaying math. I actually think you're more likely to find success with delayed math if you DO love math or are open to doing more open-ended non-algorithmic math with your kids and being purposeful about introducing logic and games and other things that will build a foundation for later understanding math - which, again, is much more like what Benezet did way back when. I think if you're just putting math off because you don't like it or you want to avoid it, you're MUCH better off just getting a solid, easy to implement program like Saxon or Math Mammoth or Teaching Textbooks and just doing a little at a time and slowly working through it.

murphs_mom

08-05-2013, 05:51 PM

BTW, you do NOT need to read to learn math -- most preschoolers spend most of their playtime "doing math" -- counting, sorting, comparing -- it's all math. :) Math is the language of the mind, and if it doesn't click it's because someone is trying to make you think in their native language instead of helping you find your own voice. It owuld be like someone trying to teach you to write by making you write like Shakespeare instead of like...you.

Who said that one needed to read to do math? That's as silly as saying you need math to read.

I don't know that I'd say "math is the language of the mind" for all people, though. For some, absolutely. For others, not so much. It goes back to wiring. DD was reading (self-taught) long before she was adding/subtracting (had to be taught). She recognized numbers...just like the letters of the alphabet. But to do anything with those numbers? That wasn't nearly as intuitive for her as reading. She was able to count quite quickly and figured out the pattern (groups of 10 that repeat) by 3yo. She could count to 100 by 3yo. Adding/subtracting took actual work. We had to spend an afternoon w/some M&M's, a counting book, and a couple hours of playing around before it clicked for her. Much less intuitive for her than reading. But that's her. Other kids will get math first, some will get reading first. Luckily, she loves basic math and I hope that will continue through higher maths. I always loved basic math and did really well with it. There's just a wall when it comes to advanced algebra, for me, and it will be DH's responsiblity to teach that stuff when the time's right.

BTW, I'm not talking about holding off on all math, just the advanced algebra nonsense. And I don't think I'd say most preK spend most of their time doing math. Some, yes. Most, no. When we had our co-op, I watched the other kids and the vast majority of time for most of them was spent w/pretend play, coloring, and reading. My kid read. One kid looked at the maps. No one played w/the manipulatives...they just weren't that into them.

Ah, and if I'm going to coerce her into someone else's writing style, it will definitely be Twain long before it's Shakespeare. :p

farrarwilliams

08-05-2013, 07:13 PM

To answer Cara's question about reading: of course kids need to read before they need to be able to do math.

Fyi, I'm pretty sure *that's* why we thought that people were saying that. ;) But I think I see now what you were trying to say.

As for whether algebra is a life skill or whether one should teach it in elementary school... I think teaching kids bar diagrams and/or variables makes sense. My kids ADORE Hands On Equations, Dragonbox, etc. And Mushroom is loving the variables chapter in Beast, which happens to be the one he's on. Not to mention all the functions stuff in Miquon. I just don't see it as nonsense - it's creating a smooth transition and showing how very connected all these things are. Algebra isn't some special, separate thing. And it *is* just as much a basic life skill to be able to figure out an unknown in an equation. Most of the math we use on an everyday basis doesn't look the way that textbook math looks, but the fundamental principles are the same. That's true of reading too. Most of the reading we do - signs to subtitles to TPS reports - doesn't look like a textbook reading quiz or even a literary discussion.

Of course, if there's a choice, then obviously you should opt for doing basic addition before variables. But luckily it ISN'T a choice. We can easily do both. There's no reason why 2 + __ = 5 can't lead to understanding that this is the same as 2 + n = 5. And that this is related to understanding that 5 - 2 = __? And all those things circle around the basic math kids need to know and introduce the idea that's central to algebra - understanding variables.

dbmamaz

08-05-2013, 07:35 PM

Raven almost counted before he could talk. His first joke was pointing at the clock and saying 1, 2, 3, FIVE! and then he giggled hysterically. he wasnt putting together sentences yet, iir. but i know he's weird.

and yes, the article specifically was about putting off basic arithmetic until middle school, correct? which sounds like a terrible idea as a general rule. But just as some kids arent ready to read until 8 or 10, some arent ready to add and subtract. but MOST kids are perfectly capable of learning math somewhere near the standards

murphs_mom

08-05-2013, 07:54 PM

Semantics was never my strong suit. I still stand by both statements: kids do not need to do math earlier compared to reading, imo, nor do they need reading skills to do math or vice versa. This doesn't mean that they can't, won't, or shouldn't. Some can, some will, and maybe there are a few that should (for unknown reasons...maybe when they were 3yo they abandoned in a 100' mine shaft w/70' of rope and they have to figure out how to get out). But the vast majority will have more use for reading skills than math skills in that age group.

Also, I'm not talking about never teaching basic algebra (finding variables, working with order of operation, or any of the fairly easy stuff). I just don't know that sticking it in a 2nd grade workbook is the right time. Especially since division and multiplication were barely touched upon. This isn't about my child, either. She was able to solve for X when she was 5yo (major sigh of relief from me) and loved hanging over her dad's should when he was doing his calculus and trig homework last fall. From what I've seen so far, I don't think she'll have my issues with the advanced algebra (graphing linear equations is one of the most mind-numbing things I've ever suffered through...never could find a real purpose for it in my life).

I'm more concerned about the vast number of children that are being churned through the school system. I cry for the number of cashiers who cannot make change for customers unless the display on the register tells them how much $ to give back, or the number of (seemingly) younger people who cannot do basic mult/div without a calculator. DH took a couple of math courses last fall and noticed that most of the students in the class were using an Apple app to do the calculations for them...they couldn't even figure out how to use their graphing calculators. When there are that many people lacking in basic math skills, one has to wonder why. Are they being forced to move on to algebra, geometry, and tougher maths before they are ready? There will always be a portion of the population who 'gets' math and find it a wonder to behold. Hey, I dig Fibonacci. I get it. But only to a certain point. I'm just not one of those who feels everyone should be required to do advanced math or science.

CrazyCatWoman

08-05-2013, 09:05 PM

When my daughter was in first grade, they did some algebra. At the parent teacher conference, the teacher commented on how my daughter was the only child who "got it." Which led me to ask "Why teach something that the kids will not be successful at?" If the kids don't get it, they will fear it...for the next number of years until their brains are ready and they will think that they "bad" at math.

My daughter started multiplication and division in 2nd grade, and the curriculum (K12) had her work on it for about 3 weeks, learning half of the multiplication table. In 3rd grade she spent about 2 weeks learning the other half. Needless to say...she didn't get it, and did extra practice. She didn't get firm with her facts for multiplication and division until 5th grade.

When I went to school, we started multiplication in 4th grade. I learned my tables on the way home from school while on the bus, looking at a composition book. In 5th grade...I was firm with my facts. Why did my daughter have to spend several extra years working on multiplication?

Now, that said...my youngest, now 8, had a hard time with basic addition. My daughter got an iPad, and I loaded on Dragon Box. And he finished all the levels before I could. Algebra does seem to require different stuff - logic more than fact remembering.

I am not sure of the answer, but I do know that I am NOT going to spend so much time with my younger two stressing facts until they are ready. I did start my youngest on Right Start, and for whatever reason it does seem to be working, so method, along with age appropriateness, may be what is needed.

Stella M

08-05-2013, 10:39 PM

You know, I think there are multiple methods of teaching math and other subjects that can be successful. A brilliant teacher in a classroom of 30 kids teaching rote maths can make a student love math class, a wonderful unschool environment can make a kid love math, a school at home that teaches formal math from K up can make a kid love math...it's all in the intersection of child, teacher ( whether that's a person or just life ) and subject. I don't believe there is a formula, except, possibly, openness and flexibility of approach according to need and, if a teacher is involved, mastery of the subject and an ability to communicate well.

CatInTheSun

08-06-2013, 01:26 AM

I don't know that I'd say "math is the language of the mind" for all people, though. For some, absolutely. For others, not so much. It goes back to wiring. DD was reading (self-taught) long before she was adding/subtracting (had to be taught). She recognized numbers...just like the letters of the alphabet. But to do anything with those numbers? That wasn't nearly as intuitive for her as reading. She was able to count quite quickly and figured out the pattern (groups of 10 that repeat) by 3yo. She could count to 100 by 3yo. Adding/subtracting took actual work. We had to spend an afternoon w/some M&M's, a counting book, and a couple hours of playing around before it clicked for her. Much less intuitive for her than reading. But that's her. Other kids will get math first, some will get reading first. Luckily, she loves basic math and I hope that will continue through higher maths. I always loved basic math and did really well with it. There's just a wall when it comes to advanced algebra, for me, and it will be DH's responsiblity to teach that stuff when the time's right.

Again you are confusing arithmetic (quantification, addition/subtraction) with MATH. THey are NOT the same thing.

A study was carried out where they watched groups of preschool children keeping track of what activities they were doing every minute during playtime and they found that roughly 80% of those activities were MATH. DOesn't matter how the child was "wired". They are ALL wired to love math, because it is inherent. It is incompetent training that fracks it up. Logic, music, analytic thought and creative problem solving are all math. You child figures out how to get their toy out of a jar by tipping it over and shaking it just right -- that's math because it requires spatial and temporal reasoning skills. MATH.

IMO math in the true sense is far more important than learning to read. Learning to read opens you to easier access to OTHER people's ideas. Math trains your mind to analyze, weigh, reason, and evaluate those ideas and form your own.

Algebra is just another toolbox, another set of toys. Because I am proficient at a wide variety of math "toolboxes" I have shown my eldest dd how I would solve the same problem using calculus, algebra, and arithmetic so she understands that what each things brings is more power and ease, but isn't "necessary". We talk about how math has evolved. Keep in mind, that even if you cover calculus you are still roughly 200 years out of date WRT mathematics. You might consider that higher math, but that would be like not covering history past the American Civil War and thinking you hadn't missed anything important.

I keep thinking there should be a required quarter-long course on "modern mathematics" just to talk about everything that has happened since. Perhaps a similar one for "current fields of inquiry in science and medicine" which could be coordinated with local colleges. Of course, now I'm just dreaming... Politicians would never allow a populace educated on science and technology beyond how to download new ringtones to their cell phones.

Bitterness aside, I think a strong foundation in the concepts first, followed by math facts before they are resistant (but not months unending arithmetic -- teach from more than one chapter so they are doing the fun stuff at the same time, like measurement or probability or sorting). I gave dd#2 the example of asking her the same fact over and over and having her count it. She realized one memorizes them because they come up so often it is just EASIER to do so. Just like you have to sound out letters fast enough to get words. It's not fun, but reading is. It's the part you have to get thru to do the fun stuff. Unfortunately a lot of programs drown them in arithmetic and endless computations until their minds go numb. That's how they learn to hate math.

Starkspack

08-06-2013, 05:12 AM

Keep in mind, that even if you cover calculus you are still roughly 200 years out of date WRT mathematics. You might consider that higher math, but that would be like not covering history past the American Civil War and thinking you hadn't missed anything important.

Interesting point. My first thought was "I wonder why schools have not adapted and added courses to math curriculum," but to your point about ringtones, I see that might be the answer. :) Interesting discussion here. As a math head myself, I lean to the side of finding math in everything - DD already gets that math is just part of life. That is not to say she doesn't balk at sitting down to do some sometimes, but she is discovering how important it is, and that lights her up.

On a completely unrelated (to this core discussion) note, the graphing calculator comments reminded me of a college course I took on differential equations. The prof emphasized the need to memorize the formulas, and told the students not to program them into their calculators. I, being a geek for one and always following teacher directions for two, did what he advised and memorized the formulas. Truth be told, it would have taken me twice as much time to figure out HOW to program the calculator, so it was EASIER to memorize the formulas. On test day, before he handed out the test, the prof went around the room and cleared the memory on everyone's calculator. The look of horror on students' faces was one of the most rewarding educational experiences I've ever had. Life lesson, people. :p

farrarwilliams

08-06-2013, 12:09 PM

I think a false dichotomy is often presented in the math wars. Choice One: Teach basic arithmetic facts and algorithms. Choice Two: Teach math concepts.

Neither choice is good. Take the third route and teach both. Honestly, what's the point in memorizing division facts and multiplication facts if you can't understand that they're inverses and have a relationship? And what's the point of teaching the traditional multiplication algorithm if you don't know what the purpose of the "placeholder zero" is?

I find it frustrating when people try to rely on the idea that "some people just aren't good at math" argument. No one relies on "some people just don't read well" - we push them to learn and try new strategies because we know the concepts - and not just memorizing some words or being able to decode - is really, deeply important. So is math.

Stella M

08-06-2013, 06:40 PM

Up to a point :) We may push students to develop adequate literacy skills, but we don't assume all of them are going to end up deconstructing Middlemarch. We push students to develop adequate writing skills but we don't assume they are all cut out to be journalists or playwrights. I see advanced math like that. It just isn't going to light a spark for everyone and that is deeply OK with me.

farrarwilliams

08-06-2013, 06:45 PM

I agree, Stella - it's to a point. Not everyone needs high literary analysis or calculus. But to me the argument that you only need to learn how to do arithmetic and algorithms in elementary school is like saying we should only teach kids to decode words in elementary school. I don't buy that. And from the moment that kids learn to read, nearly every single parent tries to imbue that reading with meaning - you can read the signs, you can read the directions, you can find out what that says, you can enjoy this book, you can look up this information. Whereas some parents seem to want math to be as basic as possible. Just the facts and no fancy thinking.

Stella M

08-06-2013, 06:58 PM

Yeah, I may be guilty of that. It's pretty hard to achieve for us non-mathy people, even with curriculum/books. If I could afford it, I'd outsource maths from K on - not because I can't do it, up till 9th grade anyway - but because I think the kids would have a better time with it with someone who had complete mastery over the subject. I have given it my best shot with all three kids, but it's interesting that one ploughs dutifully through, one is completely befuddled most of the time and one likes math. The ability may not be inborn, but the interest seems to be. Although if anyone wants to take on my math-phobe and Skype her into loving math, they are welcome! And I will be thrilled to eat humble pie...

Stella M

08-06-2013, 07:12 PM

This is why I wish there was a Bravewriter-style maths, for moms like me. Maybe a mathy mom here could write one ? :)

farrarwilliams

08-06-2013, 08:08 PM

But I like your free form math routine idea so much! People should just do that.

I didn't learn to love math until I taught it in middle school. And then I realized how easy it was to teach and how great it could be.

I think there are elementary math curricula that lend themselves more easily to helping kids get a more full conceptual picture like Right Start, which is even scripted for mathphobes, and Miquon.

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