Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Math U See this year, 1st experience

What we're using this year:

You won't see a "math" category over to the right on the blog.  I will fully admit math is not my preferred subject though I can do a fair amount of math.  Any appreciation I do have for math could be attributed to my high school math teacher Mr. Lappo.

Mr. Lappo was a no nonsense former engineer that as I recall had an accident on a work site and became paralyzed.  He taught well from his wheelchair.  Though I do not believe teaching was his first love, we could tell he wanted us to "get" it but that's not what endears him to me.

He treated us like adults.  Mr. Lappo had a test every other Friday.  His philosophy was simple.  You passed the tests you passed the class.  He lectured or explained the subject that day and then we worked the problems.  Mr. Lappo suggested you do every other problem, you get those right, move on.  He didn't correct our homework or even make sure we did it, we went over it in class and self corrected.  Many times he'd say do your practice or not there will be a test every other Friday.

His first explanation for this method was that he was going to treat us like college kids or adults.  He was not there to babysit.  I love that!  I was by this point so tired of busy work that I had actually just about flunked math the year before.

Now I didn't "just about flunk it" (don't remember what I got probably  or C- ,but I was an A/B student) because I didn't know it.  It was because this teacher had the opposite philosophy and gave out lots and lots of busy work which she counted as 1/2 the grade!  I got to the point that I refused to do it.  Call me stubborn I guess but even then before I had kids, ever heard of homeschooling etc.... I intrinsically knew worksheet after worksheet was not "learning" or an "education".

So what does all this have to do with Math U See.  This year my youngest daughter is using Algebra I from Math U See.  We're struggling with it because it doesn't follow my philosophy (and what she has apparently learned and taken as her philosophy!)  It does have lots of busy work, lots of practice and repetition.  We are cutting down on some but the jury is still out on whether we will stick it out for the full year.

The other part of my philosophy of education is that whenever possible we try to make learning fun and certainly don't want to "kill" the love of learning.  We're teetering on tram-poling this philosophy here as well.  I don't want her to hate math which is where we are headed.

To be fair I knew some of the differences in my philosophy versus this curricula going into this, but this is what they chose to use at our co-op and I figured it won't kill her to do it.  If you ask her she'll say I was wrong and it just might kill her. 

So if you like lots of repetition, repeated problems (though instruction of said problems is not given in current lesson you have to think/go back), and much practice this might be for you.  If you don't, know that you will have to modify maybe by skipping problems or even entire lessons to get what you want out of it.

Do I have a better alternative?  Not a perfect one.  We have used several math curricula and hodge-podged our own.  The best I found for high school is the Math Tudor DVD's.  We used those last year as our main lessons and then I added in extra problems that I'd generate online or from other sources we have.  They do have Geometry (which is where we'll go next year) but as of the last time I looked did not have the practice problems to go with like they do for Algebra I and II.

What I liked about their video's is that they are "just" what you need and not expensive.  They don't go on and on explaining but give you "just enough".  My kids don't like some of the ones out there that take so long to watch.  They just want to get on with it and get their work done so they can move on.  Roughly they are about $40 each for workbook and problems DVD.  Here's a quote taken from their site which explains why I probably like them, "All topics on this DVD are taught by working example problems.  There are no traditional lectures of background material that won't help you solve problems and improve your skills.  We believe in teaching-by-doing and that is what you will receive by watching this DVD."

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