Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teach less math in school.

In 1929, the superintendent of schools in Ithaca, New York, sent out a challenge to his colleagues in other cities. "What," he asked, "can we drop from the elementary school curriculum?" He complained that over the years new subjects were continuously being added and nothing was being subtracted, with the result that the school day was packed with too many subjects and there was little time to reflect seriously on anything. This was back in the days when people believed that children shouldn't have to spend all of their time at school work--that they needed some time to play, to do chores at home, and to be with their families--so there was reason back then to believe that whenever something new is added to the curriculum something else should be dropped.

One of the recipients of this challenge was L. P. Benezet, superintendent of schools in Manchester, New Hampshire, who responded with this outrageous proposal: We should drop arithmetic! Benezet went on to argue that the time spent on arithmetic in the early grades was wasted effort, or worse. In fact, he wrote: "For some years I had noted that the effect of the early introduction of arithmetic had been to dull and almost chloroform the child's reasoning facilities." All that drill, he claimed, had divorced the whole realm of numbers and arithmetic, in the children's minds, from common sense, with the result that they could do the calculations as taught to them, but didn't understand what they were doing and couldn't apply the calculations to real life problems. He believed that if arithmetic were not taught until later on--preferably not until seventh grade--the kids would learn it with far less effort and greater understanding.

Read the rest of the article here.


Jessica said...


Anonymous said...

Jaaa dit is zo waar!!
Ik heb hem gelijk even getwitterd, en op facebook gezet :)


Anonymous said...

Ithaca, NY - wonderful city!! ;)

Lieke said...

wow leuk om te lezen, misschien waren ze bij mij toch ook te vroeg begonnen ;-) het is nooit meer goed gekomen ;-)


baasbraal said...

Oooooh, ik had zo'n hekel aan rekenen, inderdaad:ZOOOOO SAAI!!!! Ik was vreselijk slecht in rekenen ook. Toen ik na middelbare school een intelligentietest kreeg, wees die uit dat ik een hele analytische geest had en met gemak het moeilijkste wiskunde had kunnen leren! Allemaal verknald door het systeem (en mijn eigen eigenwijsheid natuurlijk)

Debra said...

I've always believed that less is more - especially less math.