Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Interesting Viewpoint on Early Math Education

Part of being able to understand math comes form one's ability to explain it. Oral math is important.

An experiment from a New Hampshire public school , published in the Journal of the National Education Association, in -- get this-- 1935 -- rings so true for me that I keep coming back to it's concepts to explain how I think we should be teaching elementary math today, in this time of steriod-doped curriculum planners who start giving algebra to kindergartners.

This radical idea produced superior math performers, and readers, who went on to have an easier time learning higher mathematics when the time came. Here's the radical idea in a nutshell:

"The only arithmetic in the first six grades was practise in estimating heights, areas, and the like; formal arithmetic was not introduced until the seventh grade. In tests given to both the traditionally and experimentally taught groups, it was found that the latter had been able in one year to attain the level of accomplishment which the traditionally taught children had reached after three and one-half years of arithmetic drill. In addition, because the teachers in the experimental group had had time to concentrate on teaching the children to "read, reason, and recite," these children developed more interest in reading, a better vocabulary, and greater fluency in expression."

Read the article and tell me if you agree.

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