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.
Today we all know that benefits of math are considerable. Math is not a subject one learns by reading the problems and solutions. American children have very little practice with multi_step problems, and very few opportunities to think their way in to and through problems that don't look like 'all the others'. With a packed curriculum and the increased emphasis on testing, our children are taught tons of procedures _ but procedures disconnected from when to use them, and why. Sustained thinking _ the key ingredient to math success _ is painfully absent in too many math classes.