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Topic: teaching math to adults
Replies: 2   Last Post: Nov 2, 2006 7:38 AM

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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,713
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: teaching math to adults
Posted: Nov 1, 2006 8:32 PM
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> I teach basic math in a prison environment. How do
> you get adults to learn basic math facts?

A good way to reach adults, incarcerated or not, is to weave in a lot of real world stories wherein math figures as historically critical. Neal Stephenson's 'Cryptonomicon' is a good example (a novel), with movies like 'Da Vinci Code' good runners up.

Prisons in particular inherit from fortress like designs, though with more emphasis on "keeping in" than "keeping out", but usually a prison administration wants you to avoid "dwelling on the dwelling" so to speak, like in that movie about Johnny Cash where he empathizes about the water quality.

I find with the adults I teach that our shared political vista has lots of hooks. Specifically, this "no child left behind" meme resonates with a certain brand of religious cosmology, well captured by that 'Left Behind' series (bestseller), also a made for TV movie.

I talk up NALB as possible corollary legislation, a way of ensuring that adults too make it to heaven (if that's where they want to go -- many just want out of jail, don't insist on leaving the planet entirely).

With prisoners, but also other adults, a good story usually means a conspiracy, which usually involves someone keeping secrets, hiding truths.

In the case of math, that might involve an anonymous bureaucracy being stingy with the good stuff, just pushing a diet of stale, warmed-over gruel. Again, this hits close to home and some prison administrators may question your authority to rabble rouse in this way. Just do what you can get away with is my advice (i.e. stay out of jail yourself).


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