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08 Jul 2005 - 23:10
Indus Academy is an independent math academy started by math PhD usually trained in another country to teach their children here. I know there is one in Newton, Mass started by Russian mathematicians and they use Russian texts. In Russian. One of Daniel's friends was going to this school so I asked to sit in on a class. They give a placement test...very challenging and it tests lots of different math concepts. Just to give you an idea, I sat through one class on a Satuday morning. Every child except one was Asian or Indian. That morning, the teacher introduced the students to geometric and arithmetic series. (These kids are 3-5 grade.) A geometric series is when you add 1 + r^2 + r^3+....+ r^n. So the teacher started by picking an r and generating the first couple of term. Then, he started asking students, "OK, now how would you generate the next term? How would you generate the 10th term? How would you generate the 19th term?" And then he led them through the process. In this way, the students start to think about advanced concepts in manipulating numbers. And picture the juxtapostion: these kids are sitting through Everyday Math which is at least a year behind their grade level and learning advanced mathematical concepts on the weekends.
I'd put both Christopher & me in that class in a heartbeat.
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I bet that there is one in your area. Talk to Asian or Indian parents. Ask them what they do to supplement the math program. A lot of this stuff is totally word of mouth. But when you find it, it is available to everyone. -- AnneDwyer - 09 Jul 2005
Why has no one ever heard of this? I have heard, just in passing, that Asian families have their kids at some kind of 'after-school' or 'weekend school'--but I guess I always thought this was Kumon. Is it always Russian math? -- CatherineJohnson - 09 Jul 2005
Check out these websites: ICAE.org is the website for the Indus Center for Academic Excellence in Michigan. www.russianschool.com is the website for the Russian math school in Newton, Mass. It will give you an idea of what they do and what they offer. -- AnneDwyer - 09 Jul 2005
Wow! Thank you! I found a fantastic article today by a Russian mathematician emigre on math teaching in Russia--it was kind of mind-blowing, it was so amazing. I think it ties in directly with what you're talking about, and with what you yourself are doing. I'll get it up as soon as I can. -- CatherineJohnson - 09 Jul 2005
Mind-blowing, you say! this is the word I would use to describe my experience in reading Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma. This books poses difficulties encountered in the classroom and asks both Chinese and American teachers to show how they would help the kids master the difficulties. I LOVED reading what the Chinese teachers had to say. They had such a thorough and complete understanding of simple math. I did not even know that elementary math could be that interesting. But when I read some of the problems they created for their sixth grade students, I immediately understood why I never did well in physics. I simply did not have a good understanding of elementary math in my arsenal. -- KtmGuest - 14 Jul 2005
KtmGuest?, I felt the same way you did when I read Liping Ma -- it was clear that there are depths to teaching mathematics that I had never realized were even there. Just knowing math isn't good enough. -- CarolynJohnston - 14 Jul 2005