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Subject:   Varnelle's pages
Author: gayla
Date: Mar 26 2003
Since the body of your comments comes from teachers, and your site is about
teachers, and everything I do (being an individual who is not a teacher) is
focused outside of the classroom, I've made a considerable effort not to
comment, because my comments aren't a flow with the group and almost assuredly
won't have any effect on anything that goes on in any classroom.

Having said that, I took a look at Varnelle's pages, and they are very nice.  I
didn't spend a long time looking, but it is clear that she is adddressing
standard topics in math with these young children.  This falls directly in line
with my own thinking.  It often seems that because children don't have the
verbal language skills of an adult, they are overlooked in terms of meaningful
content, when it the case that if topics are presented in their language, the
language of play, children... say 2-1/2 and up for sure in my opinion...can
process some pretty weighty ideas.  And instead of just telling children
'things', it is a good idea (again, in my opinion, I have nothing to back this
up, have never read or done any clinical studies of children, am only basing
this on observation) to present them with such things as mathematical ideas to
help an internal thinking process develop, to give their minds great things to
think about.  I'm not suggesting to shove ANYTHING down their throats, rather to
let it out there, for instance, I have presented information about fractals to
preschoolers.  When I address a group of preschoolers, what I see sitting around
me are a group of intelligent people that I take seriously from a standpoint of
intelligence, nor are they saved from being presented with tough information
because they are preschoolers, it is rather that this what might be called tough
information is presented with toys.

My experience is so limited that it couldn't be used to prove or support
anything.  What it does is to let me say with conviction that I completely
believe that Varnelle is doing something good in presenting grouded mathematical
topics to children as young as preschool, and that what she is doing is fabulous
and reasonable.  

Finally, I don't know how teacher think about children who sit bored in
classrooms, or clinically what this means.  To me, hearing about children
sitting "bored" in classrooms, indicates that those children have an
underdeveloped internal mental world.  If children are ahead of the class at
moments, they should have interesting things to think about of their own
generation, they should be able to go off into their 'own' world for varying
lengths of time.  Bored children are at least partially a function of feeding
children 'facts', in other words, making them receive information from the
outside instead of presenting them with huge ideas that they can process on some
level to help an intellectual mental development grow WITHIN them.  It's got to
be balanced, so that children are practiced at receiving information from the
outside while not depending entirely upon it for their mental sustenance.

What Varnelle is doing with these young children should be helping this
development to take place, by giving children substantial things to think about
instead of just tokens of information and "things" to keep them busy.

I'm not going to reread this, some of the sentences are long, sorry.

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