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

From: wmvh <>
Date: Mon Dec 6 20:48:01 2004

 We all use math every day. And math is certainly a part of art. As an art teacher in a public school I am constantly refering to the other disciplines. Line, shape, measurement, proportion, scale, etc., and if using american system of measurement, subtraction addition, multiplication, and division of fractions. Science is also a part. From talking about pigments to discussing electromagnetic radiation and how and why we see color.

Artists don't just think intuitively, they also build objects and build structure within their artwork. I try to show my students that math is a tool/skill just as the creative problem solving of personal expression is a tool/skill that transfers to other activities beyond painting and drawing.

William Van Horn

 --- On Sun 11/28, Darren Stanley wrote:
From: Darren Stanley [mailto:]
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 11:08:50 -0800
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] On mathematics...

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
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

[] On Behalf Of Carol
HughesSent: Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:23 AMTo:
discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.orgSubject: 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
"%^&amp;*&amp;^%". 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 -----
  susan robinson
  Sent: Sunday, November 28, 2004 12:01
  Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Where to
Received on Mon Dec 06 2004 - 20:47:33 EST

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