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Discussion: All Topics in Algebra
Topic: Algebra Textbook Recommendation

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Subject:   RE: Algebra Textbook Recommendation
Author: markovchaney
Date: Jun 15 2007
From a transcription of taped public testimony regarding Saxon Math before the
California Content Review Panel, 7 October 2000, by UC Berkeley Professor of
Mathematics, H. H Wu, no friend of reform math:

"But I think that what perhaps disturbs me the most about Saxon is to read
through it. I myself do not get the feeling that I am reading something that
when the children use it they would even have a remotely correct impression of
what mathematics is about. It is extremely good at promoting procedural
accuracy. And what David [Klein, of Cal State-Northridge] says about building
everything up in small increments, that's correct, but the great pedagogy is
devoted, is used, to serve only one purpose, which is to make sure that the
procedures get memorized, get used correctly. And you would get the feeling that
- I think of it as a logical analogy - you can see the skeleton presented with
quite a bit of clarity, but you never see any methods, your never see any flesh,
nothing - no connective tissue, you only see the bare stuff.
A little bit of this is okay, but when you read through a whole volume of it,
really I am very, very, uneasy. . . . When I do this, I want to emphasize that I
do not single out one or two examples. I am trying to describe through one or
two examples the overall, the overriding, impression that I have. And when that
happens, you get the feeling that, if my students use this, how could they not
get the idea that mathematics is just a collection of techniques? If that is the
case, what happens to them when they go on to middle school, and then to high
school, and after that, God forbid, you might be facing them in your freshman
calculus classes. And that is a frightening thought."

I couldn't agree more. Saxon Math would be my last choice for just about anyone
under any circumstances, other than as a possible source of problems. I think
that especially coming from someone like Dr. Wu, the above is a devastating and
accurate critique of Saxon Math.

Your mileage may vary, and probably does.

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