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Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Math text

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From: Jim <jcohen@losmedanos.net>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2002011612:49:17
Subject: Re: SRA McGraw Hill vs Houghton Mifflin

Saxon does not teach mathematics.  It is an excellent text for
teaching students computation and algortithmic thinking. 
Compare Saxon to a series of books with teach students spelling
through continued practice and spiraled review.  Spelling is very
difficult for students and useful for English competence.  However,
even if excellence in spelling is achieved after a year of practice,
will anyone argue that these students have learned how to read or
write literature?
The question of "what is math" interests me and would be worthy of a
discussion.  I can say that math is not excellence in computaion or
algorithmic thinking.  It is a theoritcal and applied discipline that
requires critical, logical, and creative thinking and centers around
problem solving.  Yes, math is more than this but the death of
mathematics will come when the field has been relegated to that which
can already be done on computers.
All arguments for the Saxon series that revolve around its success
rates and versitility with previously unsuccessful students are moot
for the series amounts to teaching basic rules and memorization facts
(as with spelling) and denies those students the access to learn
mathematics.  The cry of outrage would be immense if English programs
decided that the teaching of reading and writing literature would be
achieved using a series of texts that only focussed on making our
stuents excellent spellers.

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