On Fri, 14 Oct 2005 19:43:37 GMT, bh@abbenay.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Brian Harvey) wrote:
>I think, too, that the original context of this thread has been lost among >the big ideas. We are talking about a population of kids who have already >failed at learning arithmetic. So we *know for sure* that more of the same >is *not* going to do *these* kids any good. Maybe giving them some actual >mathematics won't work either, for many of them, but maybe it will, and it >certainly can't do any worse than yet another year of remedial arithmetic.
You are right again. I taught every grade, every level, and really do understand the needs of kids who have great difficulties, or at least have a good deal of experience dealing with them. They know who they are better than we do. Most need hands-on, and math when they need it applied to what they are doing immediately. However, I'd not easily accept algebra as a viable option to more, and hopefully more appropriate application. It's simply too abstract, and kids having difficulty with numbers that they can see will have more difficulty with algebra that they will never use in several lifetimes. More exciting for the teacher, perhaps, but murder for them. Even kids with moderate difficulty have more difficulty with algebra than arithmetic. For all of the fact that *we* can see the connection, they by and large can not.