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Topic: ideal student
Replies: 13   Last Post: Aug 8, 1995 7:40 AM

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 Katherine G. Harris Posts: 18 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: ideal student
Posted: Jul 30, 1995 9:53 PM

You asked for ideas on where the idea that if math problems
aren't immediately solvable, then the teacher did not teach the
correct prodedure for solution. I really don't KNOW where
children get this idea, but I do have some suspicions.

1. It makes a good excuse and many - if not most - parents
believe everything their children tell them about what goes
on in a classroom. With the "The teacher didn't teach me how."
complaint, the child is not responsible for homework or low

2. Our mathematics curriculum emphasizes computation skills at
most levels. I don't think that computation should be
de-emphasized, just supplemented. Children do not balk at
spending hours on a drawing and some math problems should
require the same amount of time, thinking, planning. I think
this is a good excuse for some involved computation also.
Certainly division by 4 digit numbers is properly done on a
calculator once a child understands the algorithm, but grinding
through messy problems teaches perseverence and ESTIMATION
skills. I once took a class of average eighth graders and
taught them the square root algorithm. My reason for doing so
was so that they would be able to do something that their more
advanced classmates could not. Most were successful and very
proud of themselves.

3. There is entirely too much emphasis on NOT making
mistakes. Thus trying something unfamiliar is very risky and
scary. Children will happily practice doing what they know and
resist trying the unfamiliar. (As an experiment, assign an
arithmetic review sheet to an upper-level class on a substitute
day. I bet they will complete it and hand it in with little
complaint.)

I really believe though that reason number 1 is probably the
most accurate reason. Thinking is too much work. (Does anyone
out there remember Maynard G. Krebs? Guess that dates me!)

Any ideas on how to fix this?

Katherine :)