Choosing a Math Program
Some time ago, Barry Garelick wrote One Step Ahead of the Train Wreck which was posted at EdNews.org. The Train Wreck is the Every Day Math program used at his daughter’s school. The way he stayed one step ahead is by using Singapore Math and tutoring her and a friend after school at home. This is a long and meaty post, but it’s a thought provoking read, with several applications. Here’s an excerpt with a useful insight:
The danger of an “after schooling” program such as I was conducting is a tendency for the students to think of the math learned at home to be different or unconnected with the math learned at school. My goal of staying one step ahead of train wrecks worked to get to the topics first, so that by the time they got to it in school, they had seen it before. This was difficult since I was held hostage to EM’s topsy turvy sequencing and occasionally was forced to tackle things like geometry that came out of nowhere.
And this is important to remember whenever we are looking at any program:
I have spoken with new teachers who speak of EM and other poorly conceived programs in glowing terms, speaking of them as leading to “deeper understandings of math.” Some have said “I never understood math until I had this program.” But it is their adult insight and experience that is talking and creating the illusion that the math is deep. Children cannot make the connections the adults are making who already have the experience and knowledge of mathematics.
How often do we parents get excited about a program because WE learn things we never realized, or are able to put things in context in a way we never could before, and we are disappointed when our children don’t find it as exciting as we do? Sometimes we are able to use a program to fill in holes or help us sort what we knew in an exciting and more useful way because of what we adults already knew, however sketchy that knowledge was. Our children, however, may not even have the patchwork bits and pieces of information that we bring to the table, so the exciting new program isn’t as useful or as exciting to them as it is to us.