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February 2023

THAT OLD "GEOMETRY BEAR" KEEPS RAISING ITS UGLY HEAD

Home School Educators frequently ask me about students taking a non-Saxon geometry course between algebra 1 and algebra 2, as most public schools do. They also ask if they should buy the new geometry textbook recently released to homeschool educators by HMHCO (the new owners of Saxon). As I mentioned in a previous newsletter late last year, a group of professors who taught mathematics and science at the University of Chicago bemoaned the fact that educators continued to place a geometry course between basic algebra (Algebra 1) and the advanced algebra course (Algebra 2) to the detriment of the student. AND THIS WAS MORE THAN 110 YEARS AGO!

The danger of using a separate geometry textbook as described by these professors more than one hundred and ten years ago - still exists today! Placing a nine month geometry course between the Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 courses creates a void of some fifteen months between the two algebra courses. How did I arrive at fifteen months? In addition to the nine month geometry course, you must also add the additional six months of summer between the two courses when no math is taken. The professors went on to explain in their book that it was this "lengthy void" that prevented most students from retaining the necessary basic algebra concepts from the basic algebra (Algebra 1) to be successful when encountering the rigors of the Algebra 2 concepts.

Home school educators also asked about using the new fourth editions of Saxon Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 recently released by HMHCO (the new Saxon owners) together with their new separate geometry textbook now offered for homeschool use. To create the new fourth editions of both the Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 textbooks, all the geometry was gutted from the previous third editions of both Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. Using the new fourth editions of their revised Saxon Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 now requires also purchasing their new Saxon Geometry book to receive any credit for geometry. That makes sense, if you consider that publishers make more money from selling three books than they do from selling just two. Regardless of which editions you finally choose to use, I would add a word of caution. If you intend to use John's Advanced Mathematics, 2nd Ed textbook, do not use the new fourth editions of Algebra 1 or Algebra 2.

So what Saxon math books should you use? The editions of John Saxon's math books from fourth through twelfth grades that should be used today appears on page 15 of my book. These editions remain the best math books on the market today, and they will remain so for decades to come.

If you desire more information about the pros and cons of using a separate Geometry textbook, please read my January 2022 Newsletter. Should you still have questions or reservations, feel free to email me at art.reed@usingsaxon.com or call my office any week-day at 580-234-0064 (CST).

                    

 

January 2023

The Infallible Professor

As we start a new year, I thought I would share a quick story about an experience I had while a student in college decades ago, an experience I am certain many of your sons and daughters encounter in their classrooms as well.

More than 50 years ago while attending a university in the South – as an active duty member of the armed forces – I encountered a rather single minded professor in a sociology class who – in his own words – "Did not want to hear any student's thoughts or opinions." Needless to say – having grown up in Chicago – I violated his edict and was ejected from his class when I questioned some rather obvious misinformation he was putting out about large cities – obvious at least to anyone who had the opportunity to live in these cities. There were about twenty young men and women in the class all from rural areas of the state and it was clear that none of them had yet – except for perhaps a vacation – traveled outside the state or came from a large city he was referring to.

Later in the afternoon, I went to his office to discuss why he had ejected me from his class. He was still quite openly angry with me and quite adamant about me accepting a "C" with the added stipulation that I was not to return to his class. I reminded him that I had earned an "A" in his class at that point. He would not budge from his position, so I left his office. That evening I wrote the following poem and had it published in the school newspaper several days later.

The Infallible Professor

"With my professor I must agree.
Not he with me, but me with he!
How then am I to learn what's true
And pass on to you the knowledge
Of mankind – when my thoughts are
thoughts of a professor's mind?"

The day after it was published, the professor contacted me and after a sometimes heated discussion, we both agreed upon some ground rules. He would allow me to return to class with the grade I had earned to that point. And I would not be penalized again for questioning anything he brought up in class. While we tangled in class a bit over other items he brought up – he never again lost his temper. And I passed his class with my earned grade of an "A"!

What had angered me most at that time was that my question was brought up in a respectful way. I gave several actual existing locations in the city of Chicago that made his statement of fact untrue – that all large cities were not identical in their physical layouts. Rather than asking me to explain in detail what I had just stated was fact – contradicting his premise – he immediately took on the aura of a dictator and attempted to shut me down by loudly and angrily shouting at me to "shut up" and loudly and angrily shouting that this was his classroom and if he wanted my opinion he would have asked for it.

I wanted to tell him that it was my money paying him to teach us — not to dictate to us. I wanted to tell him that we lived in a free democracy and that all ideas are open for meaningful and polite discussion. I wanted to remind him that is what my uncles and cousins — and my father — had fought and died for during two World Wars. But somehow I also realized that this was not the time or place for that discussion and I quietly picked up my notes and book and left his room.

I realize that his persona lives on in some college professor that your son or daughter may encounter. And I thought the poem I wrote more than half a century ago (change "he" to "she" if necessary) may be used again by any student if it brings the same peace of mind to that young student that it brought to me that night.

I promise to get back to mathematics next month.

           Have a Blessed, Safe, and Happy New Year!

 




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