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Topic: upper middle schoolers that haven't yet mastered multiplication facts

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Subject:   RE: upper middle schoolers that haven't yet mastered multiplication facts
Author: Mathman
Date: Jan 27 2005
On Jan 27 2005, reese wrote:


>I guess by all this,
> I'm trying to say that I think there is professional judgment
> involved here. Knowing the students, knowing yourself, knowing the
> mathematical goals. That said, I think you're more likely to succeed
> if you have the kind of skepticism about drill and practice that
> Ihor and Geri have.

This is the sort of topic that can go on forever, so I'll keep this brief, then
beg out, with tons of respect to all.

I love math.  Always have, since childhood.  My teachers varied from dull to
downright ineffective, even in university.  However, I never blamed them *ever*
for my failure, not acclaimed them too much fo mysuccess.  Success was due,
after all said and done, to my own initiative and effort.  I tried to pass along
that love, and a welath of experience.  Well, the truth is sometimes the magic
worked, and sometimes it didn't.

I have taught students their basic needs ofr simple arithmetic, but have also
taught how to study for math competitions; what to look for, or rather, how to
look at it in more general terms.  Students keen in a course in calculus also
got not-in-the-text problems such as four beetles starting at the corner
of a square always walk towards each other, and how far do they walk until they
meet.  I also love to resolve problems still, and have covered items such as
Gamow's Pirate problem [with a neat, short solution you'll not see elsewhere I
think), or how to construct the tangents to two circles of near equal radius
using compasses and straigthedge.  However, using the music analogy again,
although I see the necessity to give the wide general picture and all the
innuendos and crescendos and mettzofortes when studying the classics, I still
see the need, when teaching the very young, where and how to place their
fingers, how indeed to read musical scores, and other trivia which become
absolutely necessary if they want to learn how to do it ...properly.

OK, I'm done.  Good health and good fortune to those still in the trenches.
Please do not confuse those who have difficulty enough by trying to tell them
about the trees and the ecology of the forest, when they need first to know
about the roots and the stems and the leaves, both the names and their


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