My Brother, The Professor

in Philosophy

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So, I asked my PhD science professor brother, “Does this curriculum go far enough in science and math?”   He says that the colleges look at number of subject UNITS, not how far you got.  A science-focused kid will have more preparation if they do science and math every year of high school, but which classes they took is not of great importance.  Having a “Natural History” class in the 9th instead of physics in 12th is no reason for concern.

Second, he said that the AP exams don’t count for what they used to.  When we were coming up, both he and I exempted out of some Calculus and Biology 1/2 in college.  We were both science majors.  He says that now, AP Bio will only exempt you from non-science-major bio, AND you may still have to take the labs.  Dunno about the calc.

Third, he says there’s no great gains from doing physics in high school since you really need calculus to do it right.  Notice, it’s not LEARNING Calculus concurrently, but doing Physics AFTER Calculus I.

So what am I going to do?  I’m going to start the kids in Alg 1 in 8th grade.  As a high school math/science tutor, I feel comfortable gauging their level of comprehension.  We’ll take it a day at a time see where we end up.  I no longer feel the NEED to make sure they get through calc in high school, but I would like to leave open the opportunity for a calc or a review year in the 12th.

Science?  Well, as long as they get through chem (my major, btw), I’m good.  Science majors have to take a LOT of physics (my best was quantum, ha!) and taking it early did not work to my benefit.  It was like reading a great book too young.  You misunderstand so much of it that it ruins the experience for a while.  It took several years for me to reclaim any kind of mastery or enjoyment in physics.

Just FYI for the pile.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristin May 30, 2015

I struggled with the not getting physics in too. The more I learn about the program and actually go through it (we start 10th grade next year), the more wisdom I find in it. I agree about rushing to do things too soon. My consultant mentioned how some kids just aren’t mature enough to do geometry much before 10th grade, while others are. I’m glad to hear that AP classes aren’t that big of deal. I know everyone in public schools seems to be obsessed with them. Laura wants them to have mastery of a subject and more depth. A shallow exposure to lots of topics doesn’t make sense!


2 admin May 30, 2015

Shallow and wide is lame. I do like the depth. Also, natural history is SO FUN.


3 Anne May 30, 2015

I was home schooled until 7th grade (using Abeka) and was light years ahead of my peers in Math when I entered public school. I did just fine in Algebra 1 in 8th grade. What I found was that mastery is essential. I tutored a student in Algebra 2 a couple years ago. It took us 2 years to get through the program but she mastered it when she was done. She was much stronger going into Math after Algebra 2 than if we had tried to rush through it.

Just my worthless thoughts. For my first daughter, I started her on Saxon 3 in 2nd grade and we spent two years on it. Review and review and review until she too demonstrated mastery of all the concepts. I hate to see kids just move on when they don’t know the concepts cold.

My husband won a NSF fellowship to grad school. He can still do so much of his math in his head or engineering formulas. It is truly amazing to see.


4 admin May 30, 2015

Abeka math is NOT A JOKE! Wow. I like what you said. I let them slide year to year for K-5, because so much is repeated, but middle school is mastery or no fly!


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