I'm a litle surprised at the response. I'm interested in why you both react so negatively. So far, I'm not persuaded that the guy's approach to math is wrong based on your arguments, though I appreciate the critical thought behind them.

I think we have to start with the fact that I'm not worried about my son picking up arithmetic, but I am very worried about his love of learning math being destroyed. That's vital to understanding why this approach appeals to me. If down the road I find that DS6 is struggling with arithmetic, my view might change. But for now, I do not place a high premium on arithmetic. All year I have felt that we were only doing arithmetic and not math, and that has been a big problem for DS6, who is bored with it, and therefore for me.

I think DS6 has the potential to be a real math whiz, and my biggest fear about homeschooling is that I will kill his love of math. (Not that school wouldn't have killed it, too, but now I'm responsible if it happens.) I believed--even before Dr. F said it--that arithmetic is not math, even though in elementary school, that's all that kids get. This is a way to avoid that problem, and it's the first potential solution I've seen.

And for the record, Dr. F is not saying kids shouldn't learn arithmetic, just that arithmetic shouldn't enjoy the privileged place it has in the elementary school curriculum and that kids shouldn't be required to memorize it. He made the analogy that math is like music--large and varied--whereas arithmetic is just one subsection of math. Something like arithmetic is like playing the flute: it's nice, but it's not all music (though this is a flawed comparison--and he would agree--because everyone must eventually know how to do arithmetic while not every musician must learn to play the flute).

He's the head of the math department at a local GT school, and he's really well-respected in our area. He was nominated for a Nobel Prize for one of his discoveries. Seriously, this is not some fly-by-night guy, and he's not selling anything, beyond the notion of helping GT kids to learn to love math. His talk was free (he didn't charge the group or those in attendance a cent) at a nonprofit GT group I belong to, and he has no product or book to sell. He recommended no particular curriculum, even when asked. The big point in his favor to me is that his approach matches my own experience with teaching math, not to mention the way I felt about doing (but never learning) math myself.

DS6 will have to do arithmetic to solve the science and engineering problems. This is just a way to make the arithmetic *part* of math instead of *all* of math. It seems to me that it is a way to go deeper in the early grades, at the time when it is hard to go deeper. How many times have we seen the question asked, "How do you go deeper and not just faster in the early grades?" Well, here's a way! And it's experiential to boot, which is how kids learn *anything* best.

If a kid learns his times tables by figuring volume or charting the swing of a pendulum, why is that any worse than memorizing the times tables? I don't see the problem there. Am I missing something?

I don't really care about DS6's scores on achievement tests. To me, that doesn't mean he's learned math, only that he's learned what they're testing, which is going to be arithmetic. One of the reasons we're homeschooling is so that we don't have to teach to the test.

And BTW OHG, I've heard lousy things about Saxon for GT kids. Generally, HSing parents of GT kids hate it because it is so repetitive and arithmeticky. At least all the ones I know. No offense to you or Dr. Hirsch (whose books I own!), but that quote just confirms for me that math teachers value arithmetic too highly and math understanding too little.

I did look at the Investigations website you linked, but it looks nothing like what Dr. F was describing as a curriculum. It looks a lot like "Everyday Math," and we don't love that. Unless I missed something (and I may have), in 3rd grade the only experiments they do--if you can call them that--are reading a thermometer and a clock and some stuff with volume. It looks very book-bound and not tied to science and history and the child's interests as Dr. F was suggesting it should be.

I certainly can't see why "many serious mathematicians" would be dismayed by this approach, Dottie. Can you tell me more? What's the fear? It's not boxed, which is actually one of the scariest things about it to me! It's *all* on me. No laziness allowed, no falling back on simple arithmetic workbooks. All REAL math! All MY responsibility to understand and teach. And the guy IS a serious mathematician! Not to mention an excellent teacher. We all know one when we see one, and this guy is a natural. So what's the problem? Can you give me more?

Maybe I just didn't describe this very well...As I said, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. It is certainly different than the norm, but given that I was not ecstatic with any of the usual suspects for math instruction that I've investigated, this appeals to me on all levels. It fits nicely wih unit studies, which I'm leaning toward for next year. It seems logical to me, and it also feels right for where DS6 is right now.

So where's the harm in it? Is the danger solely that DS6 won't ever learn to multiply and won't ace his achievement tests in 2nd grade? (Things I'm not worried about.) Or is there something else I should worry about before I dive in?
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Kriston