Ray’s New… Math Website!

Ray's Primary Arithmetic Lesson 1

You may have noticed that things look a little bit different here since our last posting.

During the past month we’ve been busy — very busy — not only producing math videos for Ray’s Arithmetic, but also producing (trying to produce!) a decent and workable website for Ray’s.

Since day one–barely three months ago now–I knew that this site would have to be three things to all people, in order to be a success and make a positive impact.

And I knew that it needed to be these three things always and forever.

It needed to be useful.  It needed to be well-organized.  And it needed to be easy to navigate: find your way around and find what you need.

I have been striving to make sure that this is exactly what you find and what you experience when you come here: a useful (“helpful”), well-organized, clean and easy-to-navigate website.

That is why I have decided to do the following. (Drumroll, please…)

LESSONS ON THE SCREEN

NOW,… along with the video lessons themselves on each page of this estimable bundle of digits and electrons, you will also find included, the full and complete lessons from the Ray’s Arithmetic books right on the screen, right on the page that you are looking at.

Yes!

How useful is that?  How helpful would that be?

I hope plenty.  Because that is what we will be doing for ALL of the arithmetic lessons in the Ray’s books!

Paperless Arithmetic?

Don’t get me wrong.  I still think that you should either purchase the hard-copy volumes of the Ray’s Arithmetic books or else download and print the PDFs of them.  To me, they are still more useful and beneficial, especially to younger students, in that form: physical paper and print.  They can be written on.  They can be handled: “manipulatives.”  They tend to be more memorable.  “Seeing (and feeling) is believing!”  The printed lessons, or the books, become a sort of landmark in the student’s permanent academic record. “Been there. Done that!”

The books also make a terrific library of unique, comprehensive and highly sophisticated mathematics instruction — sophisticated, that is, once you get past the counting of birds and bats and balls… and CHERRIES! 

Nevertheless, there is a lot to be said for having the lessons right there in from of you, in the same form, or at least delivered via the same medium, as the videos.

The convenience factor is HUGE (I think).  It is unmistakable.

It saves you from having to print out the lessons.  You can if you want to, of course.  You will probably still want to.  But at least now it is an option and not a requirement.

Students without access to a printer and paper can enjoy the full benefit of the lessons.  They can take full advantage of all that Ray’s has to offer.  It simplifies things greatly (I think).

That is really important to me!

That’s All

I just wanted to take the opportunity of this posting to bring this latest and most significant development to your attention. I hope that it will enhance the usefulness and “value” of the site.  After all, it is my intention and goal to make this the “go-to” website for all things Ray’s Arithmetic!

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American Kids are Not So Good at Financial Literacy

I saw this on my local news website.

A globally-administered financial literacy test by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was given to 15-year-olds around the world in 18 different countries.  The results shows just what a dismal job our well-funded public education system is doing at teaching our young students the basic academic skills they need to succeed in later life as adults.

Hmmm. What’s the one academic subject area where you would expect students to begin learning the basic financial skills they will need when they grow up?

Math.

And what’s the one academic subject area where, given all the money spent on public education textbooks and curricula, things just don’t seem to add up?

Math again.

Reason number five hundred and eighty-six to homeschool your kids!

The results don’t surprise me.  In fact, the results don’t surprise anybody.  Read the various news stories online where education and financial specialists are asked to comment on the results.

You’ll notice that none of them say, “I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!  Our public schools do such a fine job of training up our youngsters in the fields of math, science, history and pretty much everything else.  There must be some mistake.  Surely the testing methodology is flawed!  Surely they cherry-picked the China students! (And the Estonia students. And the Latvia students…).”

Sorry, that’s just not the case.  To use an overly-used but appropriate observation, it is what it is.

WHAT TO DO

For those fifteen-year-olds (who are now seventeen) who didn’t do so well on this financial literacy test, they will have to seek remedial educational help somewhere.

For the five-year-olds, and seven- and ten- and twelve-year-olds who have not yet reached that crisis level of mediocrity — and are not currently trapped in the abysmal education gulag system — there is a lot we can do to prevent their financial demise later on.

RAY’S TO THE RESCUE!

If those American fifteen-year-olds had only either home-schooled or at least used a high-quality mathematics program in their school like, say, Saxon Math, they could have beat the interest-bearing pants off those Shanghai-Chinese students!

And if they had started with Ray’s Arithmetic early on, there is no question they would have earned top scores with both eyes closed and both hands tied behind their back.

Have you noticed how early in Ray’s books you begin seeing money-related math problems?

Lesson Eleven (XI) in the Primary Arithmetic book, word problem number ONE!

1. Francis had 2 cents, and his mother gave him 1 cent more: how many had he then?

SOLUTION.–Francis had then 2 cents and 1 cent, which are 3 cents.

Keep in mind, this comes very early in the K-2 volume.   So, a four- or five-year-old is learning about money and computation right from the get-go.

In fact, all three of the lower-level Ray’s math books–Primary, Intellectual and Practical–are loaded with word problems dealing with financial transactions.  Literally hundreds.  By the time a student gets through with the Practical Arithmetic book (5-6), he will have dealt with money matters, including principal, interest, loans, business transactions, currency, unit conversions, etc., hundreds of times!

That is why the Ray’s Arithmetic books were in print for so many years–decades–and went through several editions, and were in use in so many public and private schools from the mid-to-late 19th-century up until the early 20th century.

They got the job done thoroughly and effectively–and, even in 19th century money, cheaply!

Can you think of a better and more economical way of dealing with the critical mathematics–let alone financial–literacy deficit that exists in our country now?

Incidentally, Malcolm Gladwell has made some very interesting observations as to why certain provinces in China do better at math and science than their American–and even some of their other provincial Chinese–counterparts.  I won’t be a spoiler–you can read them in his excellent book, Outliers: the Story of Success.

You can read two more perspectives on this latest (but long-standing) financial bad-news story here (Huffington Post) and here (The Economist).

Then, come back here for the SOLUTION!

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