In article <dhqe43$4sl$1@abbenay.CS.Berkeley.EDU>, Brian Harvey <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > >email@example.com writes: >>I am a new teacher. I am teaching a class called Foundations of Math >>for 9th graders who are not ready for algebra. [...] What do you do with >>students for this amount of time when there is no preset curriculum? > >Consider teaching them algebra. > >Elementary school math (arithmetic) depends mainly on two skills: >(1) memorizing arbitrary stuff; (2) tolerating the arbitrariness of the >arbitrary stuff. [Yes, I know that once you understand a lot of math, >both the number facts and the multi-digit algorithms become non-arbitrary. >But there isn't one kid in 20 who understands all that.] > >Algebra is completely different. There are *reasons* for things. The main >skill is logical reasoning. If you think your kids don't have that, watch >them playing computer games. > >Teaching them arithmetic one more time (even if disguised as checkbook >balancing, or whatever the latest "real application" fad is) will just >give them one more chance to fail. > >The trick is to convince *them* that this isn't going to be just the same >stuff for them to fail at again. Maybe start with something that doesn't >have any numbers at all, such as logic puzzles. (Leave out the ones about >relative ages. :-) > >The other possibility is to teach them computer programming. They >exercise the same skills, but see an immediate result of their work. >Of course, for this you need computers -- do you have them available?
My wife has taught that sort of class at the high school level several times, and has found that Harold Jacobs' book "Mathematics, a Human Endeavor" is a good place to start. The book is aimed at undergraduates who don't think they like math, and it is a sampler of those things that don't get covered in remedial arithmetic courses. The topics are the interesting things in mathematics, so it can be a help in motivating an interest in starting to learn the level of mathematics after arithmetic.
Another year of arithmetic slower and louder is likely to be a waste of everyone's time.