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Re: algebra for middle schools
Posted:
Jun 1, 1995 1:49 PM


I also don't think the PSAT is any justification for introducing algebra a year earlier. And, although these students are often extremely gifted mathematically, they still may not be developmentally ready for the abstract nature of algebra. My suggestion is not to spend another year doing prealgebra or rehashing arithmetic but to take some excursions into discrete math topics  graph theory etc. that can be kept concrete and can be very fun for seventh grade types.
The objective for talented kids at this age, in my opinion, is to have fun with math, to be inspired to do more math and to see the incredible breadth of mathematics not to master algebra.
I used to teach swimming lessons. In one program we started teaching kids "how to swim" at ages three and four. We taught kicking and arm stroking and eventually breathing to put together a crawl stroke. It took all summer for these kids to get a semblance of a decent stroke. It was a tedious process and, despite the games we used, boring for the kids. And there were always the ones bawling next to the gutter out of real fear of the water and getting their faces wet.As you might imagine, the main motivating force behind this urge to learn how to swim at three were the parents.
On the other hand I taught in other situations where children were not enrolled in serious "stroke learning" classes until they were six. Swimming lessons before that time concentrated on water safety, water games, and having fun in the pool. There were a lot less tears at pool side and we had kids learn to swim quickly without developing bad habits to compensate for physical weakness or lack of coordination.
I think teaching mathematics has some definite parallels. Learning it earlier isn't necessarily better.
Laura  Laura Petersen petersen@lcsc.edu
Division of Natural Sciences PHONE 2087992484 LewisClark State College FAX 2087992064 500 8th Avenue Lewiston ID 835012698 USA 



