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Topic: How high was the horse?
Replies: 4   Last Post: Oct 9, 1997 10:00 AM

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Jack Rotman

Posts: 22
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: How high was the horse?
Posted: Oct 8, 1997 7:57 AM
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Lynne ( wrote:
> In a message dated 97-10-06 Debbie replied:
> << I guess I needed someone to knock me off my high horse.
> That wasn't my intention, but rather to point out that many, if not MOST of
> our students failed to learn in a conventional setting so teachers of adult
> students must take an unconventional approach. If we USE a math function we
> remember it..
> (snip)

I generally stay quite on this list, since I am not a numeracy
practitioner -- I teach 'developmental' math at a community college.
However, I think this assumption must be challenged: The assumption
that many/most of our students failed to learn by certain methods in the
past (by itself) implies that we need to use other methods. There is no
research (at least that I've ever heard of) that supports this
assumption; in fact, there is a lot of evidence that it is not true.
How many adult students have you had who thank you for being a great
teacher, when you did not do much different from what they had in the
past? It is generally the student that has changed, not us: They come
to us as adults, with more sophisticated skills and much additional
knowledge; because of this change in them, they will not experience
instruction in the same way.

Besides this, we are now seeing some adult students who experienced a
'reform' curriculum in middle or high school. If you are going to do
something "different" for these people, we would go back to the "old"

This assumption -- that we must do something "different" -- is one of
the most dangerous assumptions in adult ed and community colleges.
Sometimes it is true, that other methods are needed; other times, the
"old" methods would work just fine.

(And, before you respond with 1001 success stories, I certainly know
that many adult students get great results with "different" methods --
just as there are many adult students who get great results with
"traditional" methods. My point is that we need to make informed,
professional judgements about appropriate methods.)

Thanks for reading.

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Jack Rotman phone (517)483-1079
Lansing Community College Lansing, MI
"Like all art & science, mathematics surrounds us."
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