Date: Apr 11, 1995 6:22 PM
Subject: RE: manipulatives

I view manipulatives as a substitute for real life and real life experiences.
The best way to learn math is through real life experiences. I was brought
up in an abundance of experience to help me learn math which in turn gave me
the background to learn the abstract representation of math that we call

I think that kids today don't have the kind of experiences that gives them
the background needed to learn Algebra. I believe that is why manipulatives
are so popular-manipulatives are a way of trying to fill in for that missing
real life experience.

Labs are another way of filling in those holes in experience. In my opinion,
a better way. (I know, they're not always feasible.)

Parents providing experiences is the best way!

Manipulatives are not new, as nothing in education is new. They are a
passing fad as most things in education are. A smart teacher will keep the
good parts that work for him/her and his/her students and use them whenever

Now to attempt to open a can of worms. I also think that the current
emphasis on graphing is a fad. The availability of cheap and powerful
graphing calculators is a driving force behind this fad. I don't use graphs
as a major way of learning or visualizing. I very seldom draw a graph to help
me see what is going on. I think there are a lot of learners out there who
don't need graphs to help them learn. Graphs and graphing calculators are
another tool for learning that a wise teacher will keep and use when

Dan Kiernan