Friday, February 22, 2008

Booknotes: What Do I Do Monday, Part Four


Measuring Speed
  • "What is wrong with most schools is that we honor only a very few kinds of skills out of the great many that children possess, so that very few people get all the prizes. Also, we put too much emphasis on winning and too little on improvement, which is what children really care about, and what they can all share in."
  • "Once one of these projects gets started, the more the children take it over and do it themselves, the better."
Measuring Strength
  • "Even the happiest and calmest child ... even such a child has far more energy than almost any school or class will let him use or express."
  • "... the way to get along and get ahead in school, whether you are a boy or a girl, is to act as if you were a girl. It is sadly and dreadfully true. The very things that boys, real boys, the best boys, are most proud of, that make them feel most like boys, are exactly the things that are least acknowledged, admired, praised, or rewarded in school. In fact, these qualities are very likely to get them in trouble."
Fractions and Other Bugaboos
  • "... we have to find one name -- hence denominator-- to apply to all the objects in our collection." (adding different fractions).
  • "... I don't think children should be 'taught' fractions, but that instead they should meet and work with them in the course of their real work with numbers."
  • "But if we feel we must try to 'teach' children fractions, the proper time to begin is in the first grade."
  • "We should begin by understanding, and pointing out, that whole numbers, as well as fractions, are ratios -- it is why they are all called rational numbers."
  • "... because drill is dull, children use only a small part of their attention and intelligence doing it, hence learn inefficiently if at all, and forget quickly. Another is that since only by threats can we get healthy and sensible children to do this kind of donkey work, we have to put fear into the classroom in order to get it done. But this fear defeats its own ends, by making many of the children too afraid to think or learn or remember at all, and in a longer view, by making them fear and hate all mathematics."
From Talking to Writing
  • "Edgar Friedenberg has often pointed out how in all but a few schools there are neither times nor places where students can legitimately be by themselves.
Making Letters
  • "In our work with children, there are a couple of good rules to keep in mind. One is that it is always better to say to a child--instead of 'Do it this way' -- 'How many ways can you think of to do it?' The other is to let children find, by experiment, trial and error, and imitation, which of the possible ways of doing a thing is best for them."
  • "... feeling as strongly as before ... that getting children to do things by rewarding them every time they do what we want is unnecessary, harmful, and even in its own terms inefficient."
  • "We ought to make sure to use the words 'capital' and 'lower case' instead of words like 'big' and 'little' or 'large' or 'small... the difference is a matter of shape; size has nothing to do with it."
  • "Why not tempt children with the idea of making A's (or other letters) in as many different ways as possible? Making letters would then be an exploration, an adventure, not a chore."

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