[Discuss-sudbury-model] On mathematics...

From: Darren Stanley <rds1_at_ualberta.ca>
Date: Sun Nov 28 14:09:00 2004

Hi All,
At the risk of starting a war, I can't begin to say how troubling it is to
hear and read various statements made about mathematics as if "it" is some
kind of demon. Just like singing, studying bacteria, re-building car blocks,
writing poetry, and so, mathematics is a deeply human ACTIVITY. It can be
and is something beautiful that people can and do engage in. The continued
"utilitarian" framing of it only continues to suggest that it as something
that some people can do and the rest of society doesn't really *need* it.
The notion that it is some kind of abstract "thing" is a kind of perversion,
easily debunked.
Sadly, most people simply will never have the same measure of appreciation
of mathematics. Moreover, I might point out that one of SVS's very own
students has gone on to become a professor of mathematics. Carol, I might
say that just because *you* have managed to get through life "without
knowing squat about math" (if one might deduce such a thing from your
comments below), does not mean that the same could be said for others.
Suggesting that one does not "need" something, even implicitly and subtly,
is just as much an act of coercion as something much more explicit (like
deliberately not including books on algebra, arithmetic, its psychology and
history, for instance).
I think that it is wonderful that we can be surrounded by people who inspire
us to look at the world and jump in and do whatever really excites us and
interests, but for cryin' out loud, we can really do without the negative
commentary and bashing of the sciences and mathematics. These are myths and
stereotypes that deserve to be demolished.
And, last...never say never. Statements like "she...will probably never do
math unless..." is so naive. What crystal ball is there that can even say
such thing!?!? The FACT is, no one really knows where their learning will
take them.
For a thoughtful look at mathematics and mathematical
learning/understanding, I would suggest reading Brent Davis' book called
"Teaching Mathematics: Toward a Sound Alternative".


From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org
[mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org] On Behalf Of Carol Hughes
Sent: Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:23 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Where to begin?

Hi Susan,
It is no surprise to me that your artistic daughter doesn't care for math.
Our very artistic nineteen year old daughter who is brilliant, creative,
sings, plays the piano, paints, writes well and has great wisdom with human
behavior will probably never do math unless it is mandated by some outside
authority. Right-brain oriented people simply don't respond to the
abstract,symbol oriented world. In my humble opinion, they don't need it.
Peculiar learning style, or just one this teacher doesn't relate to from her
limited experience in the world. A traditionally trained teacher cannot
easily change their stripes. I once visited a Montesorri school with a
friend of mine and my three year old in tow. When we went into the
classroom my son picked up a couple of the neat looking Montesorri things.
The teacher quietly took them from him and put them back. So, from that one
gesture I advised my friend to look again carefully. Have you read Maria
Montesorri's biography? Some of the things teachers are doing in these
schools would absolutely cause her to "turn over in her grave". Make no
mistake about it, a Sudbury Valley School is as real as it gets. If you
can, try not to make a big deal out of the subject. Let her try it as much
as she can stand and then consequences be "%^&*&^%". The decision to make
certain subjects a must for children is simply arbitrary. In truth your
daughter can hire a good accountant who loves numbers if she needs the
service. Calculators and computers can do the rest. She can live her
entire life without knowing squat about math. Man, do I hate the words
"failure to perform". It's definately not okay for your daughter to be
described that way. Seems to me the "failure to perform" is the school's.
Keep questioning. Trust your instincts. I would lose the tutoring. Tell
her the school is not equipped to deal with her way of thinking and that's
okay. Making her feel like there is some kind of defect, or fire to put out
will stay with her for a lifetime. Ah, but mom taking a stand and backing
off on her behalf... that will stay with her for a lifetime too.
Just my opinion,

----- Original Message -----
From: susan robinson <mailto:shantiom1_at_msn.com>
To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
Sent: Sunday, November 28, 2004 12:01 PM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Where to begin?

I am reading Free at Last, which I obtained from Abraham-Hicks Publications.
Our daughter is 8 and attends a local Montessori in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Our sweet 8 year old is struggling with math, and I am struggling with
trying to coerce her into learning it. It's a no win deal. We have her
enrolled in Kumon math tutoring, which she attempts to avoid and postpone on
a daily basis. Her teacher at Montessori told me that she has a "peculiar
learning style". I tried to explain that she loves the freedom to choose,
that her "failure to perform" certain class assignments are due to a lack of
interest rather than a lack of intelligence. Our daughter sparkles. She
loves people and loves art, but loves people best of all. I consider it a
rare gift, and I can see how the use of coercion, even in the forms of
rewards and incentives, dims her. I'm looking for a frame of reference that
builds a foundation for integrating freedom into living in the "real world"
of responsibilities. I'd like to receive suggestions. We're not quite
ready to move to Massachusetts for our daughter to enroll in SVS (although
it is certainly an option to be considered). I also need to understand
more about how democracy can work; I've often found myself in the minority
opinion and outvoted in many so-called democracies.
Received on Sun Nov 28 2004 - 14:08:56 EST

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