A History of Teaching Maths

1950 style:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

1960 style:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

1970 style:

A logger exchanges a set 'L' of lumber for a set 'M' of money. The cardinality of set 'M' is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set 'M'. The set 'C', the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set 'M'. Represent the set 'C' as a subset of set 'M' and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set 'P' of profits?

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Charlotte Mason Summary

I have summarised some of the features of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy that I felt have been of particular advantage to my family. Each Charlotte Mason devotee will undoubtedly view and implement her methods differently – as they suit each unique family and family member.

This summary was intended to answer the question ‘What is Charlotte Mason Education about?’ which I have heard asked at several meetings. It is difficult to give a short answer to that question. I hope this article offers enough detail to warrant further investigation if the approach sounds like it would suit your family.

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Charlotte Mason Education

Charlotte Mason believed ‘that work which is of most importance to society is the bringing-up and instruction of the children—more than anything else [it is] the home influences brought to bear upon the child that determine the character and career of the future man or woman.’

Charlotte Mason lived in England from 1842 to 1923 and is considered to be one of the founding influences in the home schooling movement. She was a dedicated Christian teacher who developed an educational philosophy that stressed bringing broad and stimulating education to a child in a non-competitive, biblically-based way. The ‘Synopsis of Educational Theory’ developed by her schools is given in Appendix 1.

Despite possible impressions given by some modern devotees of Charlotte Mason’s educational theory, her own approach was extremely disciplined and built upon a firm foundation of her faith in God and a strong sense of responsibility to society. This is embodied in the motto of her schools: ‘I am, I can, I ought, I will’.

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Education vs Fun

I have been pondering the question of ‘natural learning’ for many years. As a new home schooling mother, I thought the notion of interest-led education sounded lovely—both for my child and myself. I doubt that many parents really enjoy the task of disciplining their offspring in any area. Additionally, the current social pressure to not build ‘negative’ impressions in the minds of the young encourages parents to continually seek ‘fun’ activities as an insurance policy for their children’s future happiness.

However, having now home-schooled one child for five years, it seems blatantly obvious to us that, for our child, it is in those areas of learning where his parents enforced regular, disciplined practice that he now experiences the greatest sense of accomplishment and genuine enjoyment. Learning should be largely interest-led–but we still need to direct those interests and encourage responsibility and application towards assigned tasks. That is why children need parents—to train them in good habits for life. If human nature were not basically sinful, maybe this would not be so, however, the Bible states that we are not born perfect, in any sense of the word!

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How to Raise a Delinquent

  • Begin with infancy to give the child everything they want. In this way, they will grow up believing the world owes them a living.
  • When they pick up 'bad' or 'dirty' words, laugh at them. This will make them think they are 'cute'. They will run off and pick up some other words that will blow the top off your head.
  • Never give them any spiritual training until they are 21 and then let them decide for themselves. By the same logic, never teach them the English language. Maybe when they are old enough, they will want to speak Bantu.
  • Praise them in their presence to all the neighbours; show how much smarter they are compared to their neighbour's children.
  • Avoid the use of the word 'wrong'. It may develop in the child a 'guilt complex'. This will prepare them to believe, when they are punished later on for stealing cars or assaulting others, that society is 'against them' and they are being 'persecuted'.

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Our Home Education Objectives

Presentation to CMAG IMAGE Forum, 26 July 2007

Alexandra asked me to speak at this forum on behalf of the Christian Home Schooling community. I declined.

The only thing all home schooling families have in common is that they do not send their children to school on a full-time basis. There are home schooling families from every race, religion and socio-economic group in Australia and they are home schooling for lots of different reasons. The Christian home schooling community is almost as diverse – there is no typical family or typical approach to education.

So, today I’ll only be speaking on behalf of my own family.

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Reflections on Education

We were married for nearly 18 years before our son was born. We had planned on having a large family much earlier but, as we discovered, life rarely runs to plan. So, while waiting for our own family, we had enough time to observe a whole generation of children (in the care of relatives and friends) growing up. We also had time to follow professional careers which, for each of us, involved designing and conducting training courses for adults. In this context we developed many–and discarded some–theories on human behaviour and learning. This experience also left us with definite views on education, vocational training and the distinction between the two.

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Registration Issues

To register as home educators in NSW, parents need to contact the Education Department (Office of the Board of Studies) and indicate this intention. The Department duly sends a form to be filled in and returned, and eventually arranges for an 'authorised person' to telephone you to arrange an inspection. The inspection may or may not take place in your home (your choice) and may or may not involve your children (your choice). If you choose to see the inspector without your children you are expected to provide adequate documentation to demonstrate their educational progress. For more information, call the Office of the Board of Studies on (02) 9367 8149 or visit their Web site.

As I understand it, the inspectors (in both NSW and ACT) want to be satisfied that:

  • your kids are not being abused (in any sense of the word);
  • your kids are not being exploited (just kept at home to work in a business);
  • your kids will not grow up as anarchists (not know how to work with others); and
  • your kids will not be disadvantaged as adults (and become a liability to society).

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Two Women Chatting

Two women meet at a playground, where their children are swinging and playing ball. The women are sitting on a bench watching. Eventually, they begin to talk.

W1: Hi, my name is Maggie. My kids are the three in red shirts–helps me keep track of them.

W2: (Smiles) I'm Terri. Mine are in pink and yellow shirts. Do you come here a lot?

W1: Several times a week, after we go to the library.

W2: Wow. Where do you find the time?

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Written Expression

In my opinion, to apply genuine effort to any writing task, the writer must believe that:

  • He has something to say;
  • Someone wants to know what he has to say; and
  • He has the mechanical writing skills to start the task.

We write to communicate ideas, facts and feelings. A skilled writer, like an artist or musician, will be able to convey his feelings, as well as clearly communicating ideas or facts, through his style of writing.

A child can be taught to mechanically place words on paper within the guidelines of correct grammar and spelling. However, to choose to express his feelings and create a 'word picture' rather than a flat description, requires a different attitude to his work. He has to feel that he has something to say and he has to believe that someone wants to read it before he can really be motivated to write it down. I believe these two factors are much more important than believing he has the necessary mechanical skills for writing.

Like all creative activities, writing does require energy from the writer. Other academic assignments, such as a page of arithmetic, do not demand the same type of effort from the student. There are times that each person feels 'creative' but I am not suggesting that writing exercises wait until the student chooses to 'feel like it'. However, it is much easier to develop the mechanics of clear expression when the writer really wants to communicate with his audience.

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