kitchen table math, the sequel: Laura/GeekyMom on what parents want

Friday, June 5, 2009

Laura/GeekyMom on what parents want

at 11d:

In general, I think that some of the research, like any social science research on a complex topic with multiple variables, isn't terribly definitive. And I think that different kids need different things when it comes to education. And different parents want different things. Some parents want a well-rounded type of education that teaches solid academic skills but also leaves room for art, music, socializing, etc. Others want just the academic rigors and still others want a more artsy kind of education. As a school, then, it's hard to please and meet all those different needs and desires. Add to that the desire of state and federal government to assess progress without necessarily coming up with the best way to do that and you have a recipe for bad schools. Or at least schools that are very far from the ideal that many educated parents want.

One of our regulars (lgm? lsquared?) left a similar comment the other day, which I had intended to post up front but can't find at the moment.

This is an important question.

Do we have a sense of:

a) whether different children need different things

b) whether different parents want different things (I would say 'yes' to this one)

c) if parents want different things, what do these different things boil down to?

d) if parents want different things, what are the 'deal breakers'? (i.e., on what issues can parents compromise without feeling 'rolled over' -- )

At this point, having experienced Hogwarts, I am a partisan for boys schools (for boys who want or need boys school, not for all boys), structure, and in loco parentis.

Those elements may not be 'deal breakers' for me, however. I'm not sure.

The deal breaker for me is direct instruction in the liberal arts.I want my child to receive a liberal education. I don't want him to receive an 'education' in 21st century skills. On this matter, there is no room for compromise.

As for the distinctions amongst a well-rounded and solid education versus an academically rigorous education versus a more "artsy" education -- any of these would be fine with me. They would be great, in fact, although C. would be mildly resistant to "artsy."

But is my attitude likely to be common?

29 comments:

RMD said...

"In general, I think that some of the research, like any social science research on a complex topic with multiple variables, isn't terribly definitive. And I think that different kids need different things when it comes to education. "

This statement leaves us with not much to go on . . . and I don't believe it reflects the research.

For example, the Follow Through program was quite definitive and thorough (almost a decade of cohorts) in showing which teaching technologies were the most effective . . . the teaching establishment just didn't want to hear the answer. Additionally, Skinner's research is very instructive in telling us how all organisms learn (bit by bit). Finally, the research outlined in the recent book "Talent is Overrated" tells us what it takes to master something (hours of dedicated practice with outstanding teaching), and that just because we master one skill doesn't mean we can master another without the same dedicated effort (i.e., teaching "problem-solving" doesn't typically work because much of problem-solving subject-specific).

It seems like we DO know a lot about how people should teach and learn, but that the knowledge isn't widely disseminated, or that it is poorly understood.

"And different parents want different things. Some parents want a well-rounded type of education that teaches solid academic skills but also leaves room for art, music, socializing, etc. Others want just the academic rigors and still others want a more artsy kind of education. "

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. However, since most parents are ill-informed about what is really needed to succeed (including me), there is much more disagreement than there otherwise might be. (As a side note, I don't believe this is because parents aren't smart and capable, but because there is so much bad information. Also, we all tend to make decisions based on our personal observations rather than what some study says . . . look at fad weight loss supplements people ingest, despite the poorly supported claims, that end up being very unhealthy.)

And to answer some of the questions posed by Catherine, here are some questions I've asked myself as I've tried to determine what my kids should learn:

1. Will the skill open doors of understanding about how the world works? (e.g., a deep knowledge of mathematics helps us quantify and explain the world)

2. Will it help them learn? (e.g., being a strong, fluent reader helps us develop knowledge)

3. Can they conceivable learn the skill later in life without much impact? (e.g., Powerpoint skills can be learned later, whereas writing skills are more difficult and costly to learn later in life)

4. Will it make them more "marketable" in the world, without narrowing their opportunity set?

Okay . . . there are some thought-starters for your weekend! ;-)

vlorbik said...

your attitude is almost entirely wiped out
unless i miss my guess; the party of
"business uber alles" has pretty much
flattened the notion that schools are
anything *but* a sorting hat for the economy.

i've just quit classroom teaching.
no room in the "center for workforce development"
for a liberal artist like me; not anymore;
it took 24 years for them to chase me
out of *all* the corners i used to hide in
and say true things as clearly as i knew how
to small groups of learners (and, sometimes,
others... alas). a great run for me.

no carrot on the stick if there isn't some *chance*
of making some decisions that actually matter.
*both* sides of the mathwars appear
quite often to be looking for better ways
("better" according to *their* critera, natch)
to push teachers around.

education-for-liberation *cannot* be carried out
by fellow-captives of some economic machine
but only by free individuals.

much of the role of the so-called right wing
in my (admittedly half-baked) understanding
is to deal more openly than the s-c *left*
with society's *need* for an economic underclass.

there's no *way* everybody can "rise up"
and take on middle class values or lifestyles;
they don't call it "the middle" for nothing
(though they also don't call it that with
much *accuracy*; pretty high up to these eyes).

"more openly" means in part admitting that
there isn't gonna be much carrot for
the poor (we always have 'em with us,
you know)... and concluding that
there'll have to be that much more stick.

so they come right out and *denounce*
"liberal arts" values in favor of
the *law of authority* (21st century skills).

one has here understood, though very likely
in some *unconscious* way, that the
*main social value* of schools is in
keeping down the majority, and *not*
in the quality of the minority that
passes successfully through its filters.

i'm probably bugging out of here
for at least a while while i work on
my highly-undeveloped
"anything in the world but a math teacher"
skills. still i'd be thrilled by some followup.

CassyT said...

As a parent, I agree that we don't always have the information necessary to make the right choice. We put our oldest in a reputable, fairly rigorous program in 7th grade in AZ. The biggest problem was that even though he was ready for Algebra, it wasn't offered to 7th graders. period. No choice. We felt the other courses (like Latin) would outweigh the minimal challenge at the school in math.

When we moved to Colorado, we found that the AZ school only taught 1/2 yr of Latin (in 1 year) and now that son spent a semester catching up to his new peers. At least the CO school and I agree on 21st Century Skills. (It is Core Knowledge, so that was bound to happen.)

Next year the oldest is heading to an IB Middle Years programme. It was again an informed choice, but we worry that it still may not be the right one for him.

I'm still hoping one of these schools will help with his writing skills.

RMD said...

"I'm still hoping one of these schools will help with his writing skills."

Have you looked at The Complete Writer program by Susan Wise Bauer?

I have the first book, and I'm plannning on starting it after my older son has mastered his math facts. It looks quite good, and is made to be used in small units.

Allison said...

--his is an important question.

Do we have a sense of:

a) whether different children need different things


If we have our own children, especially for those with more than one, then I think we are strongly aware of how different our children are. This much more so than if we do not have children, or at least, haven't lived long on the planet.

This is different than having a peer reviewed neuropsych paper. We have a very good idea that in our interactions with different kids, different things work; but could we quantify how much different, how big a difference? Could we quantify the needs in any coherent way? Who could? Do the battery of ed psych tests given inform parents and teachers about personality, cognitive, or intellect traits in such a way that we could DO something with that information?

b) whether different parents want different things (I would say 'yes' to this one)

Absolutely. This we know empirically: Montessori schools, Waldorf Schools, IB schools, religious schools, language schools, magnet schools, big schools, little schools, etc. Parents want different things for their kids the way they want different things for themselves, too--as humans we all want our basic needs met, but our wants are different, and continue to differ over time, with changes in environment, etc.

c) if parents want different things, what do these different things boil down to?

Can we answer this? I meet parents who want their children to have their children receive a child-centered k-3 school because they want arts training for their kids, and they think child centered is artistic. I meet parents who want to send their kids to the "museum magnet" school in town because it has high test scores, never considering the confounding variables of who picked that school in the first place. I meet parents who are ex k-3 teachers who hate testing, I meet some who think kids should read in preK and others who think formal reading shouldn't be taught til at least age 8.

I guess I'd rephrase this as: if we could show parents how their choices led to a college education or lack of one; a trade skill or lack of one; a well read, well enumerate individual, a well paid individual, would that help them to make choices now?

d) if parents want different things, what are the 'deal breakers'? (i.e., on what issues can parents compromise without feeling 'rolled over' -- )

I'm not sure it's as simple as "what issues". I think there are some specifics here, but also a general "straws on camel's back" phenomenon, where if there are just too many things that are off, I'm going to feel that we've reached deal breaker status. That could mean that even if I like the curriculum, if we've reached a point where I have lost trust, or feel their quality is slipping, it'll become a deal breaker. My kid being miserable is a deal breaker.

What I want for my kids is a true liberal arts education with competent science and math, at a car payment a month not a house payment a month. I'd like it to be Catholic, but as most Catholic institutions don't provide one, that's not a deal breaker. If I can't have that, what then ? I don't know. How far from liberal arts is it before it isn't anymore? Lucy Caulkins and Everyday Math don't count.

Allison said...

RMD, These are interesting questions. Most of them I agree with. One thing not listed here that is critical to me is this:

that they NOT learn subjects at an age where they would be taught incorrectly.

I ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY REJECT the idea of teaching probability and statistics in high school. This is absurd, as even in college, statistics is usually taught incorrectly. The chance of correctly teaching it in high school is vanishingly small. (I grant you that I'm a Bayesian, so you may think things are correct that I don't...like the whole notion of what a probability is.) I can come up with other examples if you like.


But I guess I have a top down approach. Instead of asking which subjects they should be taught by looking at each and asking your questions, I started with my goals and derived what needs to be there.

I want my kids to be able to understand the world they are in, how it came to be that way, and which parts are mutable, which immutable. I want them to be able to recognize truth from falsehood. I want them to want to find out more truths, as well. I want them to be able to communicate well enough to convey their ideas, their opinions, and their knowledge to others. I want them to experience joy.

That means they need to be able to think and reason. All of that means they need to know science, math, history, literature, rhetoric, art, and philosophy, as well as some economics, some engineering and a few other things. That's why I want the liberal arts education.

Crimson Wife said...

Absolutely different children benefit from different approaches to education. We seriously considered enrolling our oldest in a Sudbury school because she's the type of self-motivated learner who does things like reading "The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia" for fun. But I would not enroll my second child in a Sudbury school because he needs greater structure and more explicit instruction.

Education is not a "one size fits all" thing. What works well for one child may be a disaster for another one, even if those children are siblings.

Paul B said...

Success for the people I've known is about having the ability to make choices. Sounds simplistic, but what I mean to suggest is that a person who is equipped to follow the paths of their choosing will be the most satisfied and therefore successful by their personal definition.

Of course, early on, kids don't necessarily know where they want to go or what they want to be and we shouldn't force any of that on them. But, when it comes to education, it seems that the goal should be to always be sure we are neither pinching off opportunities or pitching one.

Probability is a useful example. It's sort of a branch on the tree of mathematics. It's not a core concept that, in it's absence, shuts down unreasonable amounts of choice, i.e. it's safely deferred. It's also properly delayed because it takes extraordinary language skills to succeed with it.

I agree with Allison's assertion that it's a ridiculous pursuit for high school and would add that it's even more absurd for K-8 (the norm for my state). It doesn't open up curricular choice in any meaningful way and not having it in your repertoire will not keep you out of Harvard.

An intriguing question is what, more important, levers have to be left out in order to squeeze this kind of thing in? I'd guess that handwriting, spelling, grammar, and mathematical automaticity are some of the sacrificial concepts that were kicked to the curb. If you think about the avenues that get shut down when you don't have these fundamental skills, you'll have a sense of the proper weights to apply to curricular choices.

SteveH said...

It's not possible for one school to be all things to all kids and parents. Is the question whether or not this is possible within certain limits or "deal breakers"? I would say that you might get it close, but what's my choice, to stay or spend lots of money and send my child off to a private school far away?

I don't look at it as deal breakers, I look at it as choices. We brought our son back to our town's public schools because we didn't want to send him out of our community and have his day programmed from morning to night. Besides, we still had to deal with issues of Everyday Math at the private school. I could define deal breakers, but I really don't want to know how that information would be put to use.

When I started looking into the problems of education years ago, I wasn't expecting the world. I knew that we would have to adapt, but I just didn't realize how much that would be. I can deal with it for my son, but that's not why I am fighting in the Math Wars.

There is something going on here that is not just learning style or educational focus. There is right and wrong. One might love the idea of child-centered group discovery learning, but still, most schools get it wrong. It's not a question of a better way of learning, it's a question of low expectations versus high expectations; right and wrong.

RMD said...

"I ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY REJECT the idea of teaching probability and statistics in high school." - Allison

I can certainly see your point!

Zig Engelmann, back in the 1960s, saw your point too . . . but with K-5 reading instruction. His early attempts at developing a program were hindered by teachers that couldn't learn to do all the things teachers need to do to be successful in teaching young children.

To remedy this, Engelmann started to use teaching scripts. While dismissed by many, they offload curriculum development (i.e., developing each explanation of a new concept, testing to make sure it works, sequencing it properly, etc) to the scripts so that teachers can focus on the very difficult tasks of teaching the material and keeping kids on task. In addition, because the scripts have been tested to confirm that they are effective, they have a very high likelihood of being successful in communicating each idea. (Engelmann's goal is "flawless" communication . . . ideas presented in small chunks with explanations where there is only one passable interpretation and zero chance of confusion.)

The method that he developed is called Direct Instruction, and it's highly effective. The schools that adopt it and embrace it have terrific success. (one school that I know of averages 1 year and 4 months of academic achievement for EVERY school year across all core subject areas and all students, with no admissions testing . . . and there are many more out there) Additionally, Follow Through, the largest educational research project ever conducted, found it superior on ALL dimensions with ALL students (look at Bereiter's report for the best take on it).

So . . . one might imagine a stastics course at the high school level that is completely scripted out, with testing to make sure that students are grouped according to their ability to learn the material (a key Direct Instruction feature). The scripts are tested at multiple high schools and modified according to these tests to make sure they work. Teachers are then trained to deliver the program, with follow-up visits by coaches to make sure the teachers are progressing. Each concept is taught using "flawless" explanations, and then reinforced in each session until mastery is assured.

The primary issue is that the education establishment is not ready to use methods that are proven to work. Instead, they continue to subscribe to "constructivist" notions that describe how it's best to learn, not prescriptive teaching methods that are proven to work through evidence-based methods.

Paul B said...

But the primary question was not, can it be taught. The primary question was, should it be taught.

I certainly agree that it CAN be taught. I just question whether displacing something more fundamental to get it into a curriculum is worth it.

RMD said...

"But the primary question was not, can it be taught. The primary question was, should it be taught."

This isn't how it was expressed by Allison:

"I ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY REJECT the idea of teaching probability and statistics in high school. This is absurd, as even in college, statistics is usually taught incorrectly. The chance of correctly teaching it in high school is vanishingly small. "

Here's something to consider: If Direct Instruction is effective in accelerating achievement (the school mentioned before has grade equivalents of 13+ for some subject areas in 10th grade), then there's plenty of room to teach more material, including statistics.

RMD said...

p.s. I'm really not trying to be argumentative . . . but I'm not being clear about my point here either. So I'll try again . . .

In the debate about education, all of us are hampered by the abysmal state of modern pedagogy. So instead of talking about effective evidence-based teaching methods, we spend time talking about goals that are way below what is possible, and trade-offs that we may not need to make in a world where effective teaching technologies are used.

I hope that makes sense.

Paul B said...

RMD:

Point taken! I missed Allison's additional point about 'can'.

The 'can' and 'should' arguments are also not independent of one another. I'm pretty sure that with enough effort you could teach calculus to sixth graders. The dilemma is to figure out if it has enough value for enough kids to make it worthwhile in the first place.

I'm not of the school that says every kid needs calculus or even algebra though and I vehemently disagree that it is worth doing these things if they are displacing fundamental and broadly required skills to do so. I'm not saying this is happening now, just a concern that it's all to easy to dismiss 'simple' things as unnecessary.

Handwriting is one of my pet peeves for example. Neatness and organization is fundamental to good math. We don't teach this fundamental anymore and I've got kids in seventh grade that produce printing that looks like it came out of the first grade. This becomes a significant impediment to excellence in mathematical pursuits.

Allison said...

By "taught correctly" I didn't mean "taught well such that someone learns" vs "taught poorly". I meant "taught accurate material in the first place."

re: probability and statistics: you SHOULD NOT design a course for high schoolers for the reasons Paul listed, but it's worse than that. You CANNOT design one that is correct because basically everyone would tell you you were wrong, when what they know is false--and they would argue for ever about what was false. The consensus does not exist, and when that's true, it's ludicrous to teach high school or younger kids. This is different than saying "a reading program does not do its job", and that DISTAR or project Follow Through did when others couldn't. You cannot script the correct probability course, because people would argue that the content itself would be wrong--that is, false. There are probabilists, measure theorists, discrete mathematicians, combinatorists, and statisticians, and they don't agree at all on what's true--they don't agree on what a probability IS or how it should be defined.

To the broader point,schools should not waste time teaching accurate material that is misunderstood, either. If it takes another Englemann to write the script, then a school should refrain from putting students in the path of their own damaging material until that script has been tested and vetted, at the very least. But since that's practically impossible, they should stop.

Teaching physics wrong to children in middle school is worse than not teaching physics. Are high schoolers better taught? Maybe, maybe not, but at least you could argue there's value in teaching physics to high schoolers who intend to go off to college, even if they are taught wrong ideas some of the time. But for everyone else, refraining from giving wrong ideas years to be cemented in place is still better.

Catherine Johnson said...

i've just quit classroom teaching.
no room in the "center for workforce development"
for a liberal artist like me


oh, no!

That's not good -----

Catherine Johnson said...

education-for-liberation *cannot* be carried out
by fellow-captives of some economic machine
but only by free individuals


well, assuming I follow you, this is pretty much the point I've reached....

I've started thinking about path dependency again. Unfortunately, I'm not up to the task of saying what I mean at the moment -- !

V, what are you doing??

Where are you going??

Catherine Johnson said...

I guess I'd rephrase this as: if we could show parents how their choices led to a college education or lack of one; a trade skill or lack of one; a well read, well enumerate individual, a well paid individual, would that help them to make choices now?

That's a good way to put it.

That's what I mean; I think this is another way of saying what RMD said, too.

btw, I've mentioned this before, I think, but back when the district was having its "Community Conversation," focus groups were given 3 choices to discuss (Citizen A, Citizen B, & Citizen C).

Ed suggested that his group invent Citizen D, whose proposition was that our school should prepare students to succeed in college level work by providing them a high-quality K-12 education in the liberal arts.

Everyone in the group instantly signed on for this. Without hesitation.

That's not to say this would happen everywhere, but that was a striking example of people having more points of agreement than we are normally led to believe.

Catherine Johnson said...

one school that I know of averages 1 year and 4 months of academic achievement for EVERY school year across all core subject areas and all students, with no admissions testing

Which school is this??

Anonymous said...

Teaching probability to high school students satisfies two important objectives:

1) the student will be firmly convinced that math makes no logical sense, but is a kind of magic that must be invoked by the correct spells (eg: Oh, you got it wrong because you used the sample standard deviation instead of the population standard deviation).

2) the student will forever be dependenent on calculators (eg: just punch this into your TI-84...). The beauty about this plan is that by spending time practicing counting methods (combinations and permutations), the student will not have enough algebra to do the calculations by hand, or even with a regular scientific calculator, but must rely on the magic buttons of the special graphing calculators.

--rocky

I'm sorry I sound so bitter. I wanted to be sarcastic and witty and ended up depressing myself.

Ok, why do our leaders write these curricula? I guess they view statistics as "real world" and much more relevant than just factoring quadratics and solving proportions. What they don't understand is that you need lots of tools in your toolbag before you can build a house.

They want students to learn "critical thinking". For many years critical math thinking was developed through geometry: what it means to be necessary and what it means to be sufficient. But they think geometry is boring and they want something else to take its place. Statistics is not that thing.

ChemProf said...

I think you are right, rocky, that they view stats as "real world" math, and they also think that statistics means asking every kid in the class what pet they have and drawing charts, so it seems like "fun math" in elementary school.

In general, I'm seeing a trend to do the "fun stuff" and skip the basics in math and science, so students learn about genetic engineering but not the basics of cell structure. I put "fun" in quotes because often I think it actually becomes magic, as rocky notes, since the students lack the structure they need to really get the point. Focusing on statistics rather than algebra and geometry is another example of this trend.

But Allison is right that correcting a wrong idea is so much harder than teaching a correct one (one of my main goals in General Chemistry is to squash the mental image of the Bohr model of the atom that students have been shown since third grade and it takes a lot of effort and repetition).

Anonymous said...

Okay, now you guys have me horrified. My 8th grader is slated for AP stats freshman year. He's finishing up honors algebra 2/trig right now.

He is a cynical little guy. He enjoys going against the grain and seeing mistakes in how people interpret data. He's obsessed with economics at the moment.

Is there anything I can say or do from my end? Speak slowly, I'm the resident math phobe.

SusanS

SteveH said...

"... is to squash the mental image of the Bohr model of the atom that students have been shown since third grade and it takes a lot of effort and repetition."

This is interesting. Is it difficult because the Bohr model is a bad starter(?) model or becuase your students are intellectually lazy?


As for statistics, I perfer the approach where it is learned (as needed) in the context of other courses.

ChemProf said...

The Bohr model is appealing but a bad starting model. It gives you flat atoms, and electrons in nice neat rings like planets, but you can't get from there to the shapes of molecules, which are three dimensional. It also makes students think of the electron going around in circles, which makes it harder to learn about the correct quantum mechanics. In particular, when high school teachers teach molecular bonding starting from the Bohr model without emphasizing that it is only a paper model, students don't really get how molecules work.

My favorite story of this was a graduating senior chemistry major telling his mother that electrons not only go around in circles but in figure 8's too. He had learned about p orbitals, but had managed to make it work with his mental model of circling electrons in the Bohr model.

I don't think that it is students being intellectually lazy, but that once a model is cemented in the mind, getting it out is really hard.

Sorry for the chemistry digression!

As for Susan's concern, I think AP stats is much better than most high school statistics courses, judging from my incoming students. If he has trig under his belt, they can at least talk about Gaussians and normal distributions. I do get Allison's point -- from a math professor point of view, you really shouldn't cover stats until you have taken calculus -- but at least your son should get the functions of probability, not just mean, median, and mode!

Anonymous said...

SusanS, would that every kid had your 8th grader's troubles. The only danger is if "honors algebra2/trig" is an inflated title for a mediocre course. The AP/Stats course is ok if he gets college credit for it. It's a calculator course and I'm sure he can crank it out and get the grade.

The most useful stuff he could take would be college algebra, college trig, and "precalculus" with analytic geometry and infinite sequence/series. Then he will be really ready for calculus when he gets to college.

God bless,
--rocky

Anonymous said...

He just finished up honors algebra 2/trig. Our high school has two honors levels and he's in the top one. Parents report to me that the lower one moves a good deal slower than the top one.

Of course, I still have no idea what that means. I was the math-hating kid hanging out with the chorus/theatre/art kids.

Anyway, thanks for the heads up.

SusanS

Allison said...

SusanS, you should not worry about him in stats. My comments are meant for the 99.99% of the school population who will never have the facility with math that your son does right now. If your son is taught something wrong, at some point later in life, he'll recognize it and correct it on his own. But that can't happen for nearly anyone else. You can still worry about his math experiences, but he's outpacing everyone by so much that really, he's going to need something entirely different, and AP classes aren't going to cut it.

Your son sounds fabulous. Has he any peers? anyone who can challenge him? Have you looked into math camp for him? summer math camps like PROMYS at BU or ROSS at Ohio State or the one at Hampshire? There are others too, but if he loves math, accept not "math appreciation" camps--stick to the real math camps! Then he can see what really sharp kids can do, what learning to study and think can produce, and he can have real peers.

I have exactly 0 knowledge of what's in an AP stats class, but I can tell you this: there are honestly math profs who believe nearly all statisticians are just wrong about their field, and that statisticians' basic definitions are incorrect. Your cynical son may love finding that out.

I would suggest two different books to him to read for fun. They will dramatically over his head (but for how long?!?!?) , and maybe that would be exciting to him, since it sounds like almost nothing he's received in math has been out of his grasp for long. It's good for him to learn just how hard hard things are, so to speak.

The first is called Probability: The Language of Science by E . T. Jaynes. If he just learns to read even the first 3 chapters, he'll have learned something fantastic.

the second is a book called A Course in Combinatorics by Lint and Wilson.

These are college texts. But even reading the foreword, the introduction, the first chapter will open up new vistas to him about what math can BE, and that is more powerful than any AP class. So let him take AP stats. He'll do fine. He'll learn the standard stuff, even if it's wrong, whatever. He'll learn it to mastery, and some day, if he cares, he'll have enough competence with it to understand why it was wrong. Don't worry.

Allison said...

and in case it wasn't clear, you know your child and his temperament to know how he'd respond to things over his head, and I have no idea how he would, but some kids see too big a gap between what they can bite off and something in front of them and quit. If he's like that, he doesn't need these books.

But if his eyes would get wide at seeing what mathematicians DO and how they SPEAK and THINK, then these are enthralling.

So you should absolutely positively tell your son that OF COURSE the material in those books is WAY over his head, and that's okay, and it's way over the heads of the undergrads who take the courses, too, and that he shouldn't think he can't do math if he can't make sense of it, or whatever is the appropriate speech to build him up instead of tear him down.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Allison,

I will get those books for him. He loves to read books that adults read. Right now he's walking around with a Milton Friedman book and a dictionary. I'm more shocked at the dictionary, quite frankly. He's never looked up a word in his entire life without being forced . Now, he's grabbing for it every sentence he reads.

I do have all of the info on the various math camps you listed and plan to look into them for future summers.

Since he's so obsessed with economics right now, we just decided to send him to a camp at Wellesley where he can take a couple classes in entrepreneurship and the stock market.

It's more of a fun, enrichment camp, but I had a hard time finding a camp (that we could afford) that enabled him to explore his love of economics.

Now, this flirtation could end in a few months and he could be on to some other topic, but I like to ride the wave with him as long as he's interested.

SusanS