Monday, October 24, 2011

Odd Ideas About Math

I was in the hospital Friday. Thought the baby might be coming but it turned out to be a false alarm. Like any good homeschooling mom I took along a new Algebra text I'd picked up in a thrift store and wanted to look over. New is relative of course; the text was published in 1945.

I had it sitting beside the bed on a table when a nurse came in to take some blood. She noticed the book, asked about it and I explained I was looking it over to see if we would use it in our homeschooling. She said it looked like something she would have used in school so I told her how old it was. She decided it must be outdated.

Outdated? Algebra? Huh?

I said that I didn't think it could be but she assured me that the math kids do today is very different from what she did as a teenager and the implication was that a 65 year old text book simply couldn't work in 2011. I disagreed. Catherine even spoke up and said she prefered her current older text (of the same vintage). I will admit, some terms might be a little dated but that's an easy and quick fix when faced with more modern terms.

I then made the mistake of mentioning that my daughter doesn't use a calculator for her algebra. Oy. Apparently she translated that to mean I will never teach my kids to use calculators and she then educated me about how essential calculator skills are. Yes, I know this. But no 8th grader needs a calculator for basic algebra. *sigh*

None of this was nasty of course. She was very pleasant and I did think the conversation was interesting but this idea that math from the 40's is somehow fundamentally different from math today is a puzzling one. What would she have said if I mentioned that many homeschoolers like Euclid for geometry? Goodness.


Anonymous said...

The people who learned algebra from that text book put a man on the moon and brought him home again. When there was a problem used a slid ruler instead of a calculator. They used their own brains and didn't have to depend on a computer to tell them what to do. Just a thought!
-P and J

Dawn said...

A thought I agree with.

We actually do have a modern text as well, Singapore Discovering Mathematics, and I love it but Catherine finds the older text a LOT clearer and much prefers the heavier review it offers.