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Topic: Saxon Revelations
Replies: 9   Last Post: Mar 21, 1995 1:14 PM

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Ken Blystone

Posts: 15
Registered: 12/6/04
Saxon Revelations
Posted: Mar 20, 1995 7:14 AM
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I recently met John H. Saxon, Jr. at the National Science Teachers
Association convention. I attended his session which introduced his
new Physics textbook. Partly, I attended the session out of curiosity
due to what I had read in the NCTM conference. I wanted to know who
this man was and to what pedagogic methodology does he subscribe?
The session was interesting and revealing.

Saxon talked a lot about himself. He told the audience that he turned
71 years of age on December 10th. His presentation was a mixture of
talking about his academic life, in which he revealed that he often did
poorly in mathematics forcing him to retake courses, and pointing out his
"favorite" problems in his book. His new physics textbook is linear in
design. It consists of 100 lessons presented one right after the other
with no attempt to link physics concepts into any kind of unified picture.
The audience was asked to start at page 6 and 7 and we then went to page
13 and then page 19 and so forth in an 800+ page book. The presentation
was disjointed, the problems in the book were presented in isolation, and
there was little effort to organize the problems into clearly identifiable
concepts or categories. There was no attempt to include the audience in
the presentation nor was there time for Q&A.

The first part of the book is not only revealing, it's a little scary.
Saxon spends about 16 pages on a preface and "An Open Letter to
President Clinton." He uses this "textbook" to deliver a politically
charged diatribe in which he blasts the NCTM as being central to
creating a disaster in math and science education. He criticizes the
textbook adoption process in California and Texas. He criticizes the
Texas Education Commissioner, Dr. Lionel Meno, for "probably not
knowing the difference between momentum and a photon." And he is
critical of Ann Richards for not answering his letter to her offering
$500,000 worth of free books for Texas schools. Saxon is highly
critical of a number of other educators for not accepting his offer
of free books because of what he calls "their fear of his math experts."

What's scary about Saxon, his textbook, and his attitude, is how
successful he's been. This is a success not based on the quality of
his materials and methods, but based on exploiting the fear and
ignorance of some educators. I was astounded at how many educators
in the session I attended were willing to give Saxon an audience. I
was surprised that no one questioned the appropriateness of using of a
textbook to deliver personal politically motivated propaganda to the
educational community.

After attending Saxon's session, I am more committed than ever to
teaching teachers about the craft of teaching, the NCTM standards,
and exploring new possibilities in making learning work for all
children. Whereas Saxon touts having the answer, the NCTM standards
promotes having an approach--an approach developed by numerous math
experts using a consensus method. Saxon, on the other hand, boasted
about hiring a "fresh out of college PhD" to help him write his
latest book because he was willing to work cheap. His motivations for
publishing textbooks are chilling.

Ken Blystone, Educational Technologist
Ysleta Independent School District
9600 Sims
El Paso, Texas 79925
Voice: 915-595-5676
Fax: 915-595-5930
Data1: 915-594-3429 (The CyberSchool System)
Data2: 915-598-1987 (The K12 Network/Internet Link)
Data3: 915-595-6806 (Ysleta Educational Telecommunications)

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