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Topic: algebra for middle schools
Replies: 4   Last Post: Jun 3, 1995 7:23 AM

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Laura Petersen

Posts: 16
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: algebra for middle schools
Posted: Jun 1, 1995 1:49 PM
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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 pre-algebra 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
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Laura Petersen petersen@lcsc.edu

Division of Natural Sciences PHONE 208-799-2484
Lewis-Clark State College FAX 208-799-2064
500 8th Avenue
Lewiston ID 83501-2698 USA
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