Date: Sep 4, 2013 1:56 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: A further response to posting on Calculator Use

Robert Hansen (RH) posted Sep 4, 2013 8:52 AM  (

I have a few disagreements with RH on his approach to 'teaching' which seem (it appears to me) to arise from a misconception of his that 'teaching' is a 'thing-in-itself'. In the real world, 'teaching' is just one portion of the 'teaching+learning' dyad. It does take some change in the mindset of 'traditionalist teachers' to understand that 'learning' is the primary part of the dyad and that 'teaching' is the secondary part.

I articulate my disagreements with one of RH's 'principles of teaching' as he has expressed it here:
> And when they (GSC: children in the 2nd group)
> don't put in the effort it is our job as teachers to
> push, goad and when possible, encourage. When they do
> not put in the effort we have to put in the effort
> for them.

If it turns out that PUSHING and GOADING are required, then that is clear indication that the conventional educational system has already failed (either in that very class - or in several classes earlier, or in the home; the home should also be considered a part of the *learning environment* of the child). Or, the failure is that of the one of the systems surrounding the educational system.

Some background to the above claims is articulated in my two responses to Jerry Becker's post "Expecting the Best Yields Results in Massachusetts" dt. Sep 4, 2013 12:10 AM (, both of which have appeared:

-- dt. Sep 4, 2013 8:20 AM, .

-- dt. Sep 4, 2013 9:53 AM, .

There probably are other disagreements I have with RH, but this one will do for now.

I DO have a couple of agreements with RH also.

I do entirely agree with RH that 'phony activities' should not form part of the classroom activities (or, for that matter, of any of the child's activities). It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to ensure NO 'phony activities' at all. Alas, in our existing societal systems, children tend to see a lot more 'phony activities' going on around them than than they do 'genuine activities'.

I do also agree with RH that it is one of the teacher's prime responsibilities to try and ensure that the child makes the necessary effort (to learn - specific subjects and skills; values; personal discipline; and etc).

If the teacher is successful in interesting the child to inculcate all of that, then the child will do all the needed PUSHING and GOADING of him-/herself by him-/ herself. (See also one of my posts linked above for the pressure exerted by the child's peer group, something that is very important in true learning).

The learning (of any subject, skill or discipline) is a huge and complex task that the child undertakes - generally with great joy, eagerness and even excitement, given the appropriate *learning environment*. I still recall the excitement with which ALL of us students approached our first learning of physics, chemistry, chem-lab, math (in particular, algebra) and so on. (In most cases, that excitement did not last long).

Check out the attachment herewith for a brief note on some of the extraordinary skills that the child has already picked up before he/she even enters school; also the two posts linked above. What's a little algebra after those extraordinary feats of learning that the child has already done, usually with just a little ENCOURAGEMENT from his/her parents?

In my opinion, most of the 'school learning' should be trivial for that child - but MOST students amazingly come out of school fearing and/or loathing math!!

I understand that President Obama, who presumably was exposed to the 'traditional system' - and who is evidently a supremely intelligent man (notwithstanding jkisraeliteknight's opinions on the matter) - Obama had confessed that during his schooldays he was rather 'poor at math' (embarrassed laugh?). The educational system should be weeping.

To the best of my understanding (and recollections of my own schooldays) this fear and/or loathing often enough starts with algebra - or perhaps with geometry. I am NOT claiming that the 'New Math' people have it right; I AM claiming that the 'traditional educational system' has got it all wrong anyway.

(Words or phrases enclosed in *s [*----*] indicate that there is some meaning in them that is not covered in the conventional dictionaries).

("Still Shoveling! Not PUSHING!")

Message was edited by: GS Chandy