This is a series of posts I am writing about The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Although the WTM has a decidedly homeschooling bent, it is an excellent reference book for any parent who is interested in taking an active role in their child’s education.
Over the next few weeks I am reading the WTM again for the second time, and blogging about my thoughts chapter by chapter. I want to be conscientious about not violating any copyrights, so I will not be including quotes from the book on my blog. I will however, be referencing specific page numbers from the third edition. I invite you to read along with me, and chime in your own thoughts in the comment section below.
General Thoughts: I believe in teaching math from a Constructivist perspective. I found a lot of the authors’ recommendations to fall in with this philosophy of teaching math quite nicely. This was really interesting to me, because that seems to be in contrast to the WTM general theories about the Grammar stage, in which it is sometimes encouraged to teach memorization before understanding. The authors seem to be of a different opinion when it comes to math.
I also found it interesting that the Horizons math program was not mentioned. Our own family did not have a very good experience with Horizons: http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com/2011/05/01/horizons-math/ Horizons does not seem to follow the Constructivist model at all, and was not a very good choice for our family. Interestingly, many parents on the Well Trained Mind Message board swear by Horizons, which makes me wonder if they have read the WTM.
Page 88: I agree with the bottom section of the page when the authors are recommending manipulatives, but disagree with the top portion when they say that it is okay for higher-order math thinking skills to come later. As a Constructivist, I believe they should be taught concurrently.
Page 89: The toothpick example was really mixed up to me. On the one hand, it could be considered the perfect example of Constructivist teaching because they are starting adding from the left instead of the right. On the other hand they use the word “carry” and the teacher is directing the student in which strategy to use. This would be anti-Constructivist.
Page 93: Saxon Math is published by Houghton Mifflin which also published Math Expressions. That’s the textbook our local school district uses.