Top of the Class, but... For seven years I've watched my beautiful son hunched over Kumon math worksheets. He finds little enjoyment from them and I'd rather see him chasing butterflies. They've certainly helped his Math performance at school __ he's top of his class, but I wonder if the effort has been worth it in the big scheme of things. He's currently solving about 100 polynomials per day. Man, he can really solve polynomials, and fast. But for what? His arithmetic skills are awesome but when presented with a math story problem, he falls apart, helpless. No matter how many times I suggest that he _ read the problem carefully, note down the givens, assign names to intermediate and final values, form equations,activate his Kumon engine (brain), he just can't get past the read_the_problem_carefully step.
The same is true for mastery of working with fractions. _ So, in general, kids who don't learn their multiplication tables and arithmetic with fractions usually don't do well in math. It's been proven that success in science depends to a great extent on success in math. So, these same kids usually don't do well with science, either. In other words, they're locked out of most of the growth that our economy is going to experience in the future. According to the federal government, eight out of ten jobs in the next twenty years are going to be computer related. If you want your child to have access to the major portion of jobs in the future, your child must master math. It's that simple. The Solution...or at least part of it _ Teachers are actually doing their best to educate children. The problems with education aren't so much on the level of teachers as with the institution as a whole. It's kind of like the state of communications in our country before the deregulation of the telephone companies. Before deregulation, one and only one advancement__the touch tone phone. After deregulation, well you have cell phones, the Internet, instant messaging, you name it! _ What dedicated teachers and parents need to do is to supplement public school instruction with strategies that work, that have always worked, to get kids to really master the fundamental skills of elementary math.