I've read with keen interest all the posts at this thread to date, and with some bemusement those that claim things like: > > ...Arithmetic can't be simplified it is already simple. > It is also tedious and that is why we have > calculators, but it is still very simple. It is so > simple that most of us can't even recall when we > learned it, like the alphabet, phonics and how to > count. Shouldn't the question be "Why do schools fail > to teach something so simple?" or "Why do some kids > have problems with something so simple?" > > How does making school more simple help? > (The specific posting referred above was from Robert Hansen [RH] - Jun 25, 2012 5:04 PM).
For anyone who has students actually failing arithmetic (or algebra; or learning the alphabet; or French; or group theory; or relativity theory or whatever), may I suggest the right way is to try and find out specifically what it is in the specific subject under consideration that the failing student finds 'difficult'. Then help him/her/ them to discover practical means to overcome the specific difficulties confronted. Usually, such means are readily found: in arithmetic, for instance, some of the best practical means are for the student to solve problems that relate specifically to the difficulties confronted.
I observe that RH has correctly identified a couple of very real issues (which, in fact, do go almost to the heart of the matter):
-- "Why do schools fail to teach something so simple?" and -- "Why do some kids have problems with something so simple?"
The tools described in the first attachment herewith can help quite significantly. They would help teachers discover just what it is that specific students may find opaque (or "difficult") in a subject.
They would also help students themselves to tackle real difficulties that they may be facing in a specific subject. (At current state of development, the tools are NOT appropriate for students younger than about high-school level).
These tools will not, of course, help any teacher who feels that the difficulties confronted by students in some subject are too just trivial (or "simple") to need help with).
Just as in the learning of arithmetic: there are some difficulties that may confront people when they start to use these tools.
Most learning difficulties - whether related to these tools; or those related to "simple" things like arithmetic - can be overcome by a mind that is prepared to undertake the task of "learning". The only difficulties that may be impossible to overcome are those in minds that have been hermetically sealed to the ingress of new knowledge. I have attached a file discussing some of the difficulties that people have found in using these tools. I believe it might not be possible to overcome the difficulties of "closed minds".