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# Question for Richelle about Living Math

Tagged: Living Math

- This topic has 9 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 8 years, 2 months ago by Laurie.

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- Alicia HartParticipant
Hi Richelle,

I have been watching the DVD and reading over the book on Living Math. I have enjoyed it thoroughly! Since we have many children and our time is limited it seems like it would be an especially good fit for us. I love the simplicity of the methods. One question I had is that if the program is mostly oral, would this be a problem for your child later when they get to higher math or have to take standardized tests.? I don’t see how it would, really, but I was just wondering. Also, what would you recommend for grades past 6th?

Thanks so much for all the research you have done and for your book and DVD! Do you have any plans to publish any more books on this topic? 🙂

Alicia

Richele BaburinaParticipantHi Alicia,

Thank you so much for your kindness. Please know your questions weren’t overlooked. I’ve just returned from the Living Educators’ Retreat in Minnesota and it has been a long day in airplanes and airports but I’m looking forward to talking math with you tomorrow.

Regards,

Richele

Richele BaburinaParticipantHi Alicia,

If we think about it in terms of a Charlotte Mason education, oral math would be akin to oral narrations in other subjects. In the earlier years, the struggle to write and form letters or numbers might outweigh the ideas that are being presented. Just as the child s.l.o.w.l.y transitions into written narrations your children will slowly transition into more written math work. Working orally in all the subjects is going to cultivate mental habits –such as clear, accurate thinking and concentrated attention– while building that effort of mind that should translate into a firm foundation as they progress. Charlotte’s schools even did algebra problems orally!

If you want to see an example of how oral algebra would be done, David Tower wrote an algebra book (originally for teaching the blind) called

*Intellectual Algebra, or, Oral Exercises in Algebra*which is in the public domain. I was recently reviewing Kent Hovind’s*Introduction to Algebra*disc set and on the first lesson he gives the class oral algebra problems.Anyhow, about standardized testing, I don’t have any evidence just faith in Charlotte’s methods. I would be apt to give my kids a practice test or two before sending them in to take a standardized test just so they would know how a standardized test works in general. We have the MCAS here in Massachusetts and I can say that my son has only covered about half of what is asked on the math test if he were to take it today. Personally, it doesn’t worry me because I want him to learn in order to know and not to just learn for an exam, plus I have him here every day with me so I can see that he is able to think mathematically. He will have to take the MCAS before he enters high school because it is required in our state.

Anecdotally, he sat in three days of lessons in a private school when he was in sixth grade and the teacher told me that in math class they were working on things he had not yet covered but he picked them up quite well and asked to be included in going up to the board to solve problems. Charlotte tells us in her 15th Principle that

*the educability of children is enormously greater than has hitherto been supposed*…*nor is the accuracy of this statement limited to clever children…*You’ve asked about recommendations past 6th grade. This is only personally speaking and you may not hold me to it as, just as CM would change a math book when she found one that suited her methods better, I may change if I find one that suits Charlotte’s methods better. Right now we are working through the Strayer-Upton Practical Arithmetic book series with Ray’s thrown into the mix at times. We use Charlotte’s recommended practical geometry books. I really like Harold Jacob’s books

*Mathematics, A Human Endeavor*,*Elementary Algebra*and*Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding*. My kids love Kent Hovind though so when my son saw he had an Intro to Algebra dvd he asked if we could get it. I’ve only started to review it myself though so I’m just letting you know what’s currently on my shelf.Plans to publish more? Yes, I really want to publish more for CM math but nothing comes out as quickly as one might hope. I also just came back from presenting on

*Physics in a Charlotte Mason Classroom*and I’d love to do something with that but don’t know what the next step will be. Just to be clear, I was a Russian Studies major with an emphasis in Art History and Business. If I can teach CM math and physics, believe me, with commitment and faith anyone can.So, let me know if this helps elucidate.

Warmly,

Richele

Alicia HartParticipantThank you Richelle so much! I cannot tell you enough, again, how much I appreciate your hard work in researching all of this. It is a blessing to us all. This really gives me a lot to chew on. Would you say that learning math the CM way is at sort of a slower pace but your child ends up learning math on a deeper level – like comparing the growth of an oak tree to the growth of a cottonwood or some other faster growing and not so solid tree?

Could I ask you another question? I am educating five blessings so I don’t feel like I can totally switch gears with the oldest two but am heading that way with the youngers. One of my youngers (8 yrs) has been doing RSM so I want to start using some of your suggestions alongside RSM. I was thinking of adding in paper sloyd and some extra mental math? What do you think?

If I can be brave enough, I am possibly starting out my 6 yr old on the methods on the DVD. How much time teacher prep time would you say that you spend for each lesson? Thanks again so much.

Alicia HartParticipantI just went over your post again and saw that you were a Russian Studies major with Art and Business….so encouraging to hear. I was actually thrilled to read it! 🙂

LaurieParticipantI glanced at the few living books you had in the back of your book and wondered what other living books you used. I have seen the

*Sir Cumference*series and there are probably others. Do you work these in where appropriate? I’m still reading your book and haven’t watched the DVD yet, so maybe you address this, but I love this idea of math so much more than the curriculum I have seen out there for purchase.retrofamParticipantLivingmath.net has lesson plans, as well as many living math book lists.

missceegeeParticipantI’ve only begun watching the DVD, but thus far it has already touched on the fact that Charlotte did not use living math books as they are referred to in modern circles. Here is a section from a blog Richele wrote that addressed this topic, too.

**Living Math Books**—Charlotte believed mathematics fell outside her rule of literary presentations. She stated:“…mathematics, like music, is a speech in itself, a speech irrefragibly logical, of exquisite clarity, meeting the requirements of mind” (Vol. 6, pp. 333, 334).

Charlotte did not employ the modern notion of “living math books” to teach mathematical concepts. She advocated acquainting the children with the “captain” ideas of math by introducing the different branches or their great thinkers through an interesting or exciting history.

https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/teaching-math-subject-by-subject-part-17/

Richele BaburinaParticipantThanks for sharing that, Christie. SCM also has a video posted called “Did Charlotte Mason Teach Math with Living Books?” which more fully addresses this common misconception. Laurie, if you have the handbook, you may also find a section which speaks about this in the Appendix called “Living Books” (I think that’s the section title). My kids enjoyed Sir Cumference but we didn’t weave it into our math lessons, rather it was in our basket of various free reads from the library. I didn’t use it to try to teach concepts. You kind of have to watch those living math book lists and we talk about it in the video.

Alicia, I like your tree analogy. There are things we tend to cover at a good clip and others take more time, just watch to ensure a good understanding and use that final five minutes to review and cement.

I think Paper Sloyd and mental math will be a good addition to your use of RSM and I do hope you “go for it” with your six-year-old in teaching CM math. I’m not sure how accurate of an answer I can give regarding my prep time. I gathered the supplies and had a copy of Ray’s New Primary Arithmetic by my side. Once the book was written, I would re-read the section I would be attending to with my youngest son before class time if it was a new concept (I didn’t have the dvd though). We probably begin our school day later than most and I am an early riser so I go over and prep our school day the morning of. I do make a copy of the scope and sequence for each child for the school year and make a note in my planner of what we covered in arithmetic that day. We have our maths immediately following Bible in the morning when everyone (including me) is at their freshest. As the teacher, you will get into the habit of the living teaching and there will be stretches without much prep as you are repeating those same steps just with different numbers.

And, yes, there was an audible sigh of relief and relaxing of shoulders when I let people know I was more the poet/dreamer-type at the start of the physics presentation 🙂

All my best,

Richele

LaurieParticipantThanks all. I quickly glanced today at the beginning of the book, but sometimes, amidst interruptions, it is easier to ask those that know. I like the idea of adding those to the reading basket.

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