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Everything posted by UHP

  1. I analyze and obsess over them like LB Jefferies watching his neighbors in Rear Window. I'm going to go on letting her play with it. The program is charming and soothing in a way. It's no effort and I can dream of it teaching her something. How long did your son use it for?
  2. One way to drive home what the Euclidean algorithm is for, is to try to find out the greatest common factor of two reasonably big numbers like 73,937 and 484,391 If you knew how they factored into primes, you would see right away what their common factor was. But by hand it can take you quite a while to find out how they factor.
  3. Wendy it sounds like you've thought about this before. Have you encountered any "adaptive" ed software, in phonics or in any other subject, that impressed you? Also, do you think your criticisms for the Lalilo assessment test also extend to the Lalilo instructional sequence? I had my daughter take the assessment last night too. She tested poorly but had a good time (she's not too experienced with computer games) and went on to do more of the lessons. Is it (at worst) harmless to let her keep playing with it? I wonder if you have an opinion.
  4. It's interesting to contrast math with other subjects, especially with reading. The rules of math are completely consistent and logical (though some of the procedures and conventions are not, watch out for those). A kid who knows a little bit of it can use reasoning to smooth his path to learning the next little bit. He can reinforce the new stuff by seeing how it fits in with what he already knows. Reading seems like the opposite. Seemingly thousands of rules, none of them universal, all of them overlapping and contradicting each other. To me it's a miracle that we're capable of it.
  5. I think you're mistaken. E.g. the nytimes this august opened an article (this one) with "Hurricane Ida, which struck the Louisiana coast on Sunday with winds of 150 miles an hour..."
  6. What makes you say that? I don't detect any mask at all, in that passage or elsewhere in the materials I've used and read. It's very up front and explicit about what it's doing and why.
  7. I think it is just a little bit old-fashioned. I'm not sure how people in 2021 talk about their wages. "The lawyer charged 500 bucks an hour" rolls off my tongue a little better than any sentence with per in it. I honestly don't think my teacher's guide is decrying anything.
  8. Here it is. Anything in italics is the expected student response to the script. What comes next:
  9. I think this is just a fancy way to say kids usually have a lot to learn about it. My experience with the creators is that they mean no insult to the kids. Earlier in the teacher's guide:
  10. I thought this excerpt from the teacher's guide for "Reasoning and Writing B" was interesting: This is from a program with 70 scripted lessons, the last 25 or so treat these concepts. An earlier track in the program treats map reading. I was interested to see this stuff addressed outside of a math class, in a "language program." I might copy that introductory exercise here later.
  11. My thought about this is not too fleshed out and not based on too much experience, but: far far better to catch them in the act of getting things right, give lots of praise. My daughter can learn from her mistakes if I catch them in real time, and not so well if I catch and correct them a half hour after the fact. But sometimes I make up a worksheet that we pretend some other kid did, maybe a beast academy character. I put in mistakes that I know she's prone to make and ask her to find them. It's worked OK.
  12. It's more challenging than these books but give "The story of philosophy" by Will Durant a try.
  13. This is nicely put. I don't like the way writing features in modern education, maybe because of the contrast you are making. A high school kid has a few years ahead of him where "writing to get an A" will be a useful skill — all the more useful if he can do it without taking too much time. In adult life, this kind of writing is not useful. Meanwhile, to write something truly original about literature is way beyond every high school kid I ever knew. Maybe I've known two or one who could write something well considered, well argued, and aesthetically pleasing. Outside of a literature classroom, it's good advice to "keep quiet" or at least "be brief" if you don't have something original to say. But then what advice to give kids who do spend time in literature classrooms?
  14. I've been telling you my opinions about education for all students, not just those in the public school system. But I will say that most education researchers have public school students under their microscopes, not homeschool students. Certainly some of this research is garbage. Maybe some of it is of high quality but only useful in classrooms. But maybe some of it is also useful at home.
  15. I believe this but it's hardly the only thing I'm arguing, or the major thing. Do you mean when I said "I guess someone who is learning calculus at 18 is less likely to be gifted than someone who is learning it at 8"? If you think that "less likely" is not doing important work in that sentence then you haven't thought it through. Not all gifted kids have an opportunity to learn calculus early. I bet that gifted kids learning it for the first time at 18 outnumber gifted kids learning it for the first time at 8.
  16. Thanks. But then, I can't tell, do you disagree with me that ordinary 4-year-olds could be taught algebra to this modest level, and that it would help them if they were? I am glad to see it done as early as 3rd grade in Horizons, and in Beast Academy. Common core leaves them until 6th grade, see here. Are these questions for me, or are you only commenting on how many different points of view you can find on this topic? I'll answer them in any case. Not my view. I do believe that kids, at whatever level or lack of giftedness, can learn material that is more complex than they are traditionally taught. But I don't like the word "challenge." I give my daughter about ninety minutes of lessons every day, and I think she faces enough challenges outside of this time. I look for ways to make a topic easy for her, and usually back off if it turns out I've "challenged" her. I guess someone who is learning calculus at 18 is less likely to be gifted than someone who is learning it at 8. But good teaching methods would benefit both calculus learners. The gifted child might catch on in spite of poor instruction, but they would get more out of good instruction. They might catch on faster, and might see some things on their own, but I don't think that changes the nature of the teaching task. I'm not fond of the word gifted because I hear some fatalism in it: "My child is gifted, so there is little I can do to accelerate her learning." "My child is not gifted, so there is little I can do to accelerate her learning." I believe there is a lot that can be done for both kids.
  17. I wonder if you've misread me as boasting about what a great teacher I am. I'm a miserable teacher. You are certainly right that it would expand my horizons if I could walk a mile in your shoes. I wouldn't walk in them with much grace. I'm not boasting but I am calling attention to a somewhat boastful personality, Engelmann, and cribbing some of his language. He has my attention because of some seemingly impressive feats like the Bereiter-Engelmann preschool and "Project Follow Through", and (more saliently, if I'm honest) because I tried out some of his advice and it worked. I do know that snake oil works some of the time by accident. Our kids will be grown, in fact hell might freeze over, before anyone settles it scientifically.
  18. I don't think I believe in age-appropriate concepts, outside of sex and violence. A kid who is behind his peers has a lot to learn. A kid who is ahead of his peers also has a lot to learn. Some of the techniques to teach kids who are behind, also work on kids who are ahead. An implication is equivalent to its contrapositive, not its converse. Teaching implies learning, lack of learning implies lack of teaching. But no, learning does not imply teaching — unless you count the environment, the muses, and hard knocks as teachers.
  19. I wouldn't defend "any child" but I would defend "most ordinary children." I'd also defend "many disadvantaged children," I'm not exactly sure what fraction but not a tiny one. I'd like to put it precisely: such children could learn that level of math before first grade, if they got the same instruction that the kids in the video did. I'm hedging about disadvantaged kids — many rather than most — because the Engelmann-Bereiter preschool had tracks, and the kids in the video were from the high-performing track. I am attentive to the difference between what the video shows, and what the video implies. Many optimists about childhood education cite Engelmann's career and if the video is a fraud, it certainly implies something dark for those optimists. Or it could be something short of a fraud, a giddy mistake like the manager of "Clever Hans." If the video is a fraud or a mistake, I would have to reconsider a lot. If the video is not a fraud and not a mistake, would you reconsider a lot? I did, the first time I saw it. Until then I had a fatalistic view of education. Here's Engelmann's story of that video, from his 1992 book (you can look up its bitter and distracting title) :
  20. It's not exactly advanced math. "Teach the 4-year-old algebra" is a synecdoche for teaching them to use letters to stand for unknowns. There's more going on in high-school algebra than that, and the book doesn't make any suggestion of teaching it. The reasons to teach this little bit of algebra are the claims that (1) 4-year-olds can learn it without difficulty and (2) it makes other things that are coming up easier to explain. One hopes that it's not just to show off, and one hopes that the claims are true. One analogy about things that are easier to explain: I can imagine teaching a kid to do sums without telling them about the equals sign. When they practiced their sums, they wouldn't see problems like "5 + 1 = ?" but always in a column. 5 +1 They could learn their "addition facts" this way but you would have left the problem of teaching what the = sign meant and what it was good for until later. By teaching it to them early you have less trouble telling them for example that 5 + 1 = 1 + 5.
  21. I don't know what contrast you are making between "stuff the kid understands well" and "actually intuitive" stuff. I don't agree that the best thing to do for struggling kid is to work on stuff that the kid understands well. I think the best thing to do is to locate things that the struggling kid does not understand, and teach those things to him. It may be easier said than done. You are morally correct. I have taught (or perhaps failed to teach) college students, a significant fraction of whom are diagnosed as learning disabled — but many think that these conditions are over-diagnosed in colleges. (Engelmann thought they were over-diagnosed in elementary schools. I offended you with a paraphrase of his provocation: "why do they call it dyslexia? They should call it dysteachia.") The pupil that has the most of my attention is a 6-year-old without any alarming developmental problems. I'd like to think she's above average and that the sky's the limit. But I had a few false starts trying to teach her simple things and for a while I was bewildered about how learning works. I've been fecklessly trying to find out what's known about children's education for a year-and-a-half. So far, I don't trust anything I've read very much. Engelmann is an exception, I trust him a lot, but that's not a judgement I arrived at scientifically. It's just a judgement. Engelmann's career after 1966 was spent studying and serving what he called "low performers." The bulk of these are ordinary kids of little means. In most of his writings, it's operationalized as "kids with an IQ above 80." But he also taught kids with Down syndrome, very significant autism, and "behavior problems." His memoir tells a lot of details about his experiences with these kids, what he was able to teach them and how. The headline claim from these experiences is that all of them — kids with IQs above 80, kids with IQs above 150 (some of the kids in the preschool tested here), deaf kids, kids and adults with Down syndrome, autistic nonverbal kids — can learn much more and much faster than they are usually taught. Some of his academic writings present evidence for this claim in academic style. Others have criticized it in the same style. I'll never know. But I've found his detailed advice, seemingly optimized for low performers in DI classrooms, to be very useful at home with my little genius.
  22. I'm tentatively all right with this definition, but none of these examples are inspiring: Nor do any of them seem to fit what you and others are describing in this thread, when you describe your methods for your gifted children. So I'm not ready to take this website as an authority on how the word "accelerated" should be used. I find some of the way people talk about this to be "prettifying" a different ugly truth: you don't have a student who is failing to learn. Instead, you are failing to teach them. (I don't mean to address this to "you" 8filltheheart specifically. I do accept the charge myself at times.) Sometimes I think it's telling that people don't like to put it this way.
  23. I would agree with the formulation: putting a lot of pressure on a struggling student will do more harm than good. Your formulation bothers me. Teaching a struggling student helps, it does not harm. (But: "if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught.") If you find a way to use your student's finite reserves of attention and enthusiasm more effectively (for instance, by finding very effective explanations), you will have accelerated them. If you search for a way to do it, you are trying to accelerate them, and more power to you. Can't I retell your story this way? You located something that your granddaughter didn't understand. You spent a few days trying to remedy it, and found the solution. You taught your granddaughter why 1+2 = 2+1. To me, it is not a very much less auspicious story, than the one about a boy who invents multiplication.
  24. I think it's fair to be concerned about a family that is racing through hard material, and putting a lot of pressure on their kids. Obvious pressure or subtle pressure. Our exalted hopes will return as disappointment. If that applies to me and my kid, I hope it is only in a limited way. I am grateful for "Give Your Child a Superior Mind," but the title still horrifies me. But I can think of some kinder reasons to go fast. At least some kinder hypotheses. One of them is that, when you the tutor work hard (or use a program that has worked hard) to remove the awful parts of education — confusion, unnecessary repetition, boring lectures that are hard to pay attention to — then going fast will be a side-effect. For instance, if your gentle expectations for a kid are that they will learn addition in first grade, subtraction in second grade, multiplication in third grade, and division in fourth grade (that's my memory of math class in childhood: one button on the calculator per year), you might not be doing them a favor. Even if you are right that the returns in adulthood to going fast are not very great. Instead you might be ensuring that math lessons are boring when they could have been fun. Editing to put a big asterisk on unnecessary repetition: it's not a great example. Repetitio est mater studiorum. I didn't really know it before I started tutoring my kid, and I believe it with great intensity now.
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