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Starting Out
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For Professional Educators
For Professional Educators
Since beginning this site, I have had contact with a few professional educators who express skepticism over these ideas and concern about the message conveyed to parents. I've accumulated some comments here that address these concerns.
This site originated as a help for homeschool families struggling in the area of math motivation in teaching their children. Many have used sound curriculum but have struggled to help their children learn, or have wanted their children to come away with more of a positive experience in math than they themselves did.
I do not focus on curriculum because there are oodles of curriculum sites out there. At some point I may accumulate years of curriculum comments from homeschool parents into a page here, but that is a tricky business, because I feel curriculum success is less a factor of what is used, and more related to how it is used. Curriculum switching is a commonly attempted strategy for math learning problems, and sometimes works, but often provides only a temporary relief.
So the focus here has been on ways to enrich the math environment in ways to facilitate easier learning and accomodate many different learning styles in ways that cannot be as easily accomplished in a classroom. Many of these ideas can be used by parents with children in school, my own children have participated in classroom settings at various times, and I use these same methods to supplement their more traditional instruction on their class days.
Much discussion occurs on the
LivingMathForum list
that relates to how to weave living math materials, methods and ideas with curriculum, and vice versa for families that have used unschooling, Waldorf or other methods that are heavily activity based and not curriculum dependent. This discussion provides balance and perspective.
One more interesting observation made by a member of the list is that many "mathy" people weave math into their daily lives and the lives of their children very naturally, almost without thinking about it. This is an area that many parent educators struggle with, particularly as the majority are women who learned math traditionally, and know no other way to see or teach math. Knowing how to "talk math" naturally is not something easily taught or explained. Math oriented people often do not see how difficult this is, and can intimidate non-math oriented individuals with the ease they experience.
Much of the information here is geared toward helping parents become more comfortable with math themselves, to self educate just as they would brush up on English grammar or American History if they are teaching their children these subjects, without feeling intimidated over having to brush up on mathematics terms and ideas that may never have been learned well to begin with.
I hope that helps clarify the purpose of this site, and provide a basis or perspective from which much of the information provided here is coming from.
Julie Brennan
November, 2005
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