Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Math

For years I've read about Ray's Arithmetic on various blogs or in homeschool catalogues and been curious.  If you've read this blog with any regularity, you know I'm a math-lover.  I would look at Ray's arithmetic and think, "Can a 100-year old math curriculum really keep us current and competitive?"  And so I would plow through with my favorite math curriculum which was renown for being advanced and keeping our sons mathematically advanced.  By the way, my favorite math curriculum is NOT our son's favorite math curriculum.


In general, I subscribe to Charlotte Mason's methods.  I believe in good books.  I believe in the value of copywork and nature study. But I neve considered any other method of teaching math other than how it was taught to me in school.  I was going to be a math teacher, but God had other plans for me.  So I KNEW how math should be taught.  I bought math curriculum and we drilled-drilled-drilled.  We spent twice the time on math that we did on any other subject.  And our boys are very advanced in math.  But they hate it.


So this year we switched to a computer-based on-line math program, in hopes that the boys would find more enjoyment of it.  They liked it better, but still did not like math in general.


As I was reviewing the Ray's Arithmetic e-books I received from dollar homeschool, a light-bulb lit up over my head.  Fireworks launched in our living room.  A rocket shot to the moon.  Can you get how much of a revelation this was to me?  Ok, here's the revelation...are you ready?  Maybe you should sit down.  Here it is:  I've been teaching the boys how to do all the math problems.  They've learned all the formulas.  They know all the processes.  We've never really covered WHY we do ANY of it!!!  I remember as a Jr. High student sitting in Algebra class and thinking, "Yeah, but when am I ever going to USE this?"  That's the age-old question with math right?  I believe that this is the disconnect with our boys that have made them hate math.  We learn and we learn and we learn new math processes, but we don't apply them.


I had this revelation while reading through Ray's Practical Arithmetic, which I received as part of the Ray's CD from Dollar Homeschool.  I began paging through several of the books included in the Ray's CD and I stopped at Practical Arithmetic.  It begins with a review of the math basics, but it was the final chapters that sparked my interest.  After the basics are mastered in this upper elementary text, the math is applied to real-life.  Subjects such as interest, discount, insurance, and taxes are covered in great detail.  I was thoroughly impressed by this text and find the books that follow to be thorough and well-explained.   It's amazing to me that a product used in the late 1800s and early 1900s could be applicable today, but it is!


And, this is an excellent value for the money it costs.  You can get the complete Ray's arithmetic from Dollar Homeschool for $59 on CD.  Of course, you will have an additional cost when you print from your PC.  I like to print my e-books.  I use a free program called fine print to print my e-books two pages on one printed page.  It is still readable and saves me some paper and ink.  But, I digress, back to the value...not only do you get the complete Ray's arithmetic program, which could span the entire 12-year educational career of your child, but you also get several other texts on science and math that are so valuable.  You could fill your curriculum needs in many areas with this one CD for $59!  Go here and see the complete list of all the books included on this CD.  You'll be impressed.  But I was warn you ahead of time, I'm an old-book lover.  I love this CD because it's full of quality texts that are not new or current.  It's the old-paths that I'm seeking for our little homeschool.  The tried and true.  You get 38 tried and true texts on the Ray's CD


At first, I was confused about how to use Ray's Arithmetic.  The books aren't labelled as "grade 1", "grade5" etc...  Then I read the Welcome PDF.  (duh!)  The books are book marked along the left side of any of the texts you pull-up from the CD.  They are listed in order of use on that left side book-mark section!  Brilliant!  So once you find a level to start your student (there are suggestions for how to do that in the welcome section) you begin with that text and just move down the list at your own pace.  While this is the method to use when using Ray's in your homeschool, you will have to figure out how and when to use the supplemental books in your homeschool.  Rest assured that you are covered for math and science for many years!


Wow, this is really starting to sound like a sales-pitch isn't it?  I'm sorry about that, but I am really excited about using Ray's in our little homeschool.  We are currently working feverishly to finish our commitment to an on-line math curriculum we reviewed earlier in the year.  When that is over, I'm printing Ray's Practical Arithmetic and the three of us are going to start with the review, which the boys will find easy and so be encouraged, and then we will learn to apply math to our real world.  The "whys" will be answered.  I may get some math lovers out of the deal after all!


Dollar Homeschool is not only the purveyor of Ray's Arithmetic.  Check out their website for all of the products they offer.  If you are an old-book lover, you'll find a lot to love at Dollar Homeschool.


If you'd like to read the reviews of the rest of the TOS Homeschool Crew, visit the Ray's review post here.  Contact information for Dollar Homeschool can be found here


Dollar Homeschool provided me with a free copy of the Ray's Aritmetic CD in downloadable PDF-form to test and use in order to write this review.

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