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Topic: Other Foundations of Math secondary teachers?
Replies: 1   Last Post: Oct 3, 2005 10:08 AM

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Brian Harvey

Posts: 26
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Other Foundations of Math secondary teachers?
Posted: Oct 3, 2005 10:08 AM
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mathteach@mikeskettle.com writes:
>I am a new teacher. I am teaching a class called Foundations of Math
>for 9th graders who are not ready for algebra. [...] What do you do with
>students for this amount of time when there is no preset curriculum?


Consider teaching them algebra.

Elementary school math (arithmetic) depends mainly on two skills:
(1) memorizing arbitrary stuff; (2) tolerating the arbitrariness of the
arbitrary stuff. [Yes, I know that once you understand a lot of math,
both the number facts and the multi-digit algorithms become non-arbitrary.
But there isn't one kid in 20 who understands all that.]

Algebra is completely different. There are *reasons* for things. The main
skill is logical reasoning. If you think your kids don't have that, watch
them playing computer games.

Teaching them arithmetic one more time (even if disguised as checkbook
balancing, or whatever the latest "real application" fad is) will just
give them one more chance to fail.

The trick is to convince *them* that this isn't going to be just the same
stuff for them to fail at again. Maybe start with something that doesn't
have any numbers at all, such as logic puzzles. (Leave out the ones about
relative ages. :-)

The other possibility is to teach them computer programming. They
exercise the same skills, but see an immediate result of their work.
Of course, for this you need computers -- do you have them available?

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