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View Diary: When I Stopped Rewarding My Son for Good Behavior (100 comments)

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  •  Don't think its clear that most kids naturally... (0+ / 0-)

    would struggle learning reading and arithmetic.  Some of the problems right now is that kids are being taught before they are developmentally ready and under a kind of pressure to measure up or else be identified as "slow".  I think most child development experts would tell you that that sort of situation is antithetical to optimum learning.

    The anecdotes (though not studies) I have heard and read from unschooling families is that kids will on their own learn to read anywhere between age 5 and 10.  I don't know about arithmetic but I suspect similar development rules apply.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles

    by leftyparent on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 07:23:07 AM PST

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    •  you think a kid is going to learn long division (0+ / 0-)

      on her own? why would she? how could long division ever be interesting enough to typical children that it would at any moment be the most interesting thing they could be doing with their time?

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 10:20:49 PM PST

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      •  Long Division is an interesting case... (0+ / 0-)

        along with much of required math learning in general.  I recall my mom (who loved math) teaching me long division when I was seven, before my classmates learned it in school.  She presented it as a useful tool that was not hard as long as you stuck to the couple basic rules of the algorithm.  I actually enjoyed that arcane knowledge in that context, and particularly in the 1960s and 70s before calculators had the occasion to use it to do some everyday calculation or another.

        Now in my case I don't recall asking my mom to learn long division, she offered to show me and I accepted with interest.  Short of initiating the wish to learn oneself, assenting to be taught something is a good dynamic for an educational experience.

        Neither of my kids (now both young adults) on the other hand were that interested in math at that age and were taught the algorithm in school as part of mandatory math learning with high stakes consequences (bad test scores leading to bad grades) if the skill was not learned.  Our daughter, who at the time wanted the approval of teachers and other adults and was a bit of a "trained seal", learned the algorithm so she could do good on the tests and get the needed kudos from her teacher that she was a "top student".

        Our son in contrast, was always a self-learner who was totally intrinsically motivated and did not care have adults evaluated him.  He grudgingly learned the algorithm but hated being commanded to do worksheet after worksheet of practice, that had to be turned in for a high-stakes grade.  Having several "drill and kill" math teachers in his older elementary and middle-school years he was completely math phobic by seventh grade.

        So life went on and our kids ended up doing self-directed unschooling during their otherwise high school years.  Our daughter works as the part-time manager of a small bakery restaurant and is a budding science-fiction writer.  Our son ran the operational side of a small start-up business for three years (done in by the Great Recession) and is now working as a video engineer.

        If I asked either one of them to do a long division problem neither one could.  Again both of them have had bad experiences with academic math, though both have managed businesses including crunching budgets, receipts, etc.  Our son even handled payroll for his small company.

        So my take from my experience, which I can't necessarily universalize, but carries a lot of weight in my opinions, is that I was better served for math learning in general for asking to learn the long division algorithm and my kids would have probably been better served if they had not been coerced to learn it.

        Your thoughts?

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

        by leftyparent on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 08:28:45 AM PST

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      •  One more thought on long division.. (0+ / 0-)

        I am convinced that an adult or youth who has developed their natural knowledge acquisition skills when faced with a need to use long division could probably go on the Internet (or have someone show them) and learn the technique in maybe a half hour.  Why make it part of a high stakes exercise in coerced knowledge acquisition with unpredictable results in the students whole dynamic with learning and particularly math?

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

        by leftyparent on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 08:35:10 AM PST

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