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Topic: Re: PUSHING children to learn math Vs. ENCOURAGING children to
learn math

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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: PUSHING children to learn math Vs. ENCOURAGING children to
learn math

Posted: Jun 28, 2013 3:16 PM
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Wayne Bishop posted Jun 28, 2013 11:25 AM (GSC's remarks interspersed):
> PUSHING is just wrong (unless it's a parent
> recognizing that little
> Johnny is not working close to his potential) and
> depending on the situation.

I'm delighted you in principle agree that PUSHING is wrong. I'd qualify your remarks about parents to the effect that, in most cases, the parents themselves do not clearly enough understand why Johnny is not working close to his potential - and the parents themselves also do not know why they themselves are are not working close to their own respective potentials. In the great majority of cases, Johnny would be quite justified in retorting (to a 'PUSHING' parent): "Go thou and do likewise". It's a pretty long, rocky and difficult path we all have to tread - Johnny and his parents both (as well as all the rest of us).
>What is neither - but
> it's vital - is
> running a competent program from Day 1 of
> kindergarten nd carrying
> on year by year thereafter. By 7th or so, some are
> ready to move on
> and some are not. Pushing everybody into algebra -
> whether 7th, 8th,
> or 9th - without being algebra ready is a
> widely-practiced disaster
> (computational competence through ordinary fractions
> with plenty of
> cookbookish word problems through ratio and
> proportion and percent
> using variables minimally but correctly and when
> appropriate.

I broadly agree - most of education (from primary school up) is a disaster (except for genuine Montessori schools - and those are rather rare indeed in India. From the remarks that Robert Hansen had once made about some Montessori school he had observed, it appears that genuine Montessori schools are rare in the USA as well).
>My 7th
> and 8th grade math would've been much better just
> giving me an
> algebra book to work through on my own. All that
> stuff had been well
> done and well-known by the end of 6th. I was bored
> out of my gourd
> until high school.

Indeed. In a genuine Montessori school, there is no such artificial 'grade' or 'class' system. Each student works at the pace that suits him/her in each subject. Exceptional students are encouraged to go further, do more, in exactly the subjects he/she excels in - while ensuring a minimum competence all round. As noted,there are very few Montessori schools actively practicing such a regime. It is not easy to do, even for trained and committed 'Montessorians'. Our ineffective educational systems outside the Montessori systems obtrude upon and severely (negatively) impact even good Montessori schools.
>9th grade algebra was vastly
> better and 10th
> grade geometry was a godsend.
> The real problem is the ridiculous level of
> chronological placement
> (age minus 5) and universal advancement from grade to
> grade
> independent of competence or even attendance and, for
> those who are
> ready, encourage them to jump ahead. At every level,
> appropriate
> challenge is a great motivator but the "appropriate"
> is critical.

See above. What is actually ridiculous is the utter mess we have all made of our educational systems (as well as a great many other systems) - with the 'foundational philosophy of society' being PUSHING rather than ENCOURAGING. (We all like to claim we are 'democratic': this is not the case at all in real life, in the real systems within which we live and work and play).

As we learn to understand and deal with the societal problem of PUSHING vs. ENCOURAGING, we shall be able to (I strongly believe) learn to overcome a great many other societal problems that we suffer from.


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