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Topic: [math-learn] The Effective But Forgotten Benezet Method of K-8 Education
Replies: 4   Last Post: Sep 3, 2012 1:51 PM

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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,251
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
[math-learn] The Effective But Forgotten Benezet Method of K-8 Education
Posted: Sep 2, 2012 10:21 PM
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Some subscribers to Math-Learn might be interested in a recent
discussion-list post "The Effective But Forgotten Benezet Method of
K-8 Education" [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: In response to my post "Faculty Try Innovative Teaching
Methods, But Don't Stick With It" at <>,
PhysLrnR's John (Texas) Clement wrote (paraphrased for brevity): "Not
sticking with innovative teaching methods is an old story - e.g., the
Benezet Method of K-8 education <>, was yanked
because of parental complaints."

While it's possible that "parental complaints" may have contributed
to the ouster in 1938 of Louis Paul Benezet <>
from his superintendency of the Manchester NH Schools, I think the
primary reasons that the Benezet Method of K-8 Education is virtually
forgotten are:

(a) the failure of the education community to appreciate the
significance of the ground-breaking Benezet/Berman experiment of the
1930's <>;

(b) the failure of universities and colleges to educate teachers
capable of implementing Benezet's Method <>; and

(c) the opposition of those who favor "direct instruction" (i.e.,
"drill and practice") in the early grades <>.

To access the complete 21 kB post please click on <>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: <>
Links to SDI Labs: <>
Academia: <>
Blog: <>
Twitter <>
GooglePlus: <>

". . .I will look primarily at our traditions and practices of early
schooling through the age of twelve or so. There is little to come
after, whether of joys or miseries, that is not prefigured in these
David Hawkins <> (2001, p. 3)

"Benezet's experience that sixth graders with no prior instruction
could catch up with students with three years of prior instruction
deserves attention. If that is so, one can reasonably claim that the
school time spent on arithmetic during grades 3, 4, and 5 is wasted."
- Andrew Gleason <> (1986?)

"[Hassler Whitney <>]. . . opposed formal
instruction in arithmetic in the early grades, repeatedly citing a
little-known study by Louis P. Benezet (1935a, 1935b, 1936),
superintendent of schools in Manchester, New Hampshire, who managed
to get several schools In his system to abandon all formal
instruction in arithmetic prior to seventh grade. After a year's
instruction, the students' arithmetic test scores were at the level
of those of comparable students who had undergone regular
instruction. Whitney saw the Benezet study as justifying his argument
that too many mathematics teachers were focusing on the passing of
tests rather than what he called 'meaningful goals.' He was
particularly disturbed by national reports calling for more
mathematics to be taught earlier in school."
- International Commission on Mathematical Instruction: ICME (2012)

REFERENCES [URL's shortened by <> and accessed on 02 Sept 2012.
Gleason, A.M. 1986?. "Delay the Teaching of Arithmetic ?"
unpublished, online as a 12 kB pdf at <>. The
late Andrew Gleason <> was Hollis Chair of
Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard University.

Hake, R.R. 2012. "The Effective But Forgotten Benezet Method of K-8
Education,"online on the OPEN AERA-L archives at
<>. Post of 02 Sep 2012 15:28:15-0700 to AERA-L
and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being
transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog
"HakesEdStuff" at <> with a provision for

Hawkins, D. 2001. "The Roots of Literacy." University of Colorado
Press. information at <>. A
perceptive review by Helen and Joseph Featherston is at

ICME. 2012. "Hassler Whitney," in "The First Century of the
International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (1908-2008)";
online at <>.

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