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Topic: Teaching Algebra
Replies: 25   Last Post: May 10, 2000 2:26 PM

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Barron, Alfred [PRI]

Posts: 200
Registered: 12/3/04
RE: Teaching Algebra
Posted: May 8, 2000 2:48 PM
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Jaime Escalente's story is well told in both the Mathews' book and
the movie. It's probably the only school movie not involving a football
or HS prom as its high point, or with East LA kids not involving a
knifing or drug o.d.

As for his secret, as he put it "ganas". Roughly translated into
English - the 'urge' or 'desire' to do something. Though perhaps, it's
more laced with passion, that is the passion to want to learn (and

Now maybe that's a bit hard for most to swallow, but then again,
it worked for this guy. After all, he got these kids up to speed and
after a while had them doing calculus. Not bad for a poor district.

So when people challenge me on algebra for all 8th graders, I think
of this guy and remember what he did.

Al Barron
Metuchen, NJ

> Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 22:52:38 -0400
> From: Guy Brandenburg <>
> Subject: Re: Teaching Algebra
> This relates to the complaints (justified or not) that WB has had about
> the
> alleged "treatment" of Jaime Escalante by the "wild-eyed reformedrs"
> formerly
> running the People's Republic of California. (For the humor-impaired: that
> was a
> joke, mostly).
> I read the book about Escalante, watched the movie, and also looked at
> least one
> of the Annenberg-CPB (or was it PBS?) videos on his teaching. I'll be
> darned if
> I could figure out his "secret", other than that he had about a gazillion
> manipulatives, and that he had the students work like the dickens,
> including
> after school, weekends, and summer vacations. I am not sure he even used
> a
> textbook, but could be corrected on that point.
> Escalante didn't even bother to learn the names of his students, did not
> seem to
> believe in orthodox teaching methods that Mathematically Correct would
> have
> everybody use, but did try to motivate his students by ... what? Appeals
> to
> pride? Practical applications? It's not clear to me what his "secret" was,
> nor
> how to duplicate whatever that was.

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