Originally Published: September 4, 2000 9 a.m.
Bernstein column ignores alternate learning modes
The article "Educators' guessing game robs children of thinking capacity" by Andrew Bernstein criticizes "new math education" that he says discards "paper and pencil computation" as "an outdated attempt to find correct answers."
The author may be trying to differentiate divergent and convergent learning. Convergent approaches take information and, like water through a funnel, narrow and focus that information to solve problems and organize information.
Divergent thinking is expansive, an opening up of creative problem solving. Divergent thinkers learn how to learn, not just what to learn. They are better able to handle today's information-service economy and to distinguish healthy and unhealthy choices.
Fortunately, at Skyview School, a K-8 public charter school based on Multiple Intelligences Theory, students learn both convergent and divergent thinking in all areas, including math. We center our math on a Visual Math curriculum and supplement it with math activities. Students learn and reinforce convergent skills as each day begins with time tests and math calisthenics. Learning the computational math tables is an important skill and they learn it best through repetition and practice. In addition, students learn all the necessary math rules. Visual Math, however, allows students to "see" how math works.
We use manipulatives to determine volume, understand different base number systems and concretize algebra. We give problems, and divergent responses and creative problem solving occur. Our percentile ranks on the 2000 Stanford 9 tests for math problem solving grades 2-6 were as follows: 59.5 percent, 73.6 percent, 72.6 percent, 77.7 percent and 87.7 percent. The longer students have had Visual Math, the better they do with problem solving. Because of the enormous success of Visual Math in grades 1-6, Skyview School has instituted Visual Math in the middle school this year.
Mr. Bernstein and Skyview School both want to educate individuals who can think independently, make healthy choices, learn how to learn and what to learn, and contribute to making the world a better place.
However, either-or approaches to education and to life fail to embrace the diverse perspectives we need to solve today's challenges.
Wayne Regina, Psy.D.
Director, Skyview School
Courier doesn't report Blewster accomplishment
In your Aug. 28 editorial "Candidates get plenty without letter claques," you said newspapers should provide readers with as much useful information as possible about the candidates.
If this is true, then why have you chosen not to publish Rep. Blewster's questions and answers and her voting record?
Second, you said newspapers should offer readers their own take on which candidates are best and which ballot measures are good for the community. Isn't this another way of telling voters who to vote for and what measures to vote on?
The newspaper's role is to give the pros and cons of the ballot measures and let the readers decide for themselves. People who read the Daily Courier are not dumb; they are very intelligent. If this is going to be the policy of the Daily Courier, then my suggestion is that all of the reporters who interview political candidates should tell said candidates to stick strictly to the issues and not the character of their opponent.
If they are not going to allow candidates to defend themselves from the mean-spirited attacks, they should allow candidates to defend themselves from the editor's mean-spirited attacks. It is repugnant, cowardly and offensive to the First Amendment for the Daily Courier to trash the people's representative and not allow the public to defend her.
The difference between a liberal and a conservative is: liberals live in fear that the people will learn the truth, and the conservatives live in fear that they won't.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Strange. How did your letter and several others defending Rep. Blewster make the paper? The Courier has covered Representative Blewster's votes on key issues. If every other candidate can talk to reporters for interviews, we think representative Blewster can do the same. With written questions, we don't know if it's the candidate drawing on his or her knowledge answering the question or a battery of handlers. We will be publishing answers to two written questions given to all legislative candidates as part of our planned coverage. Let's see how she does. The Courier will be publishing several written questions and answers from District 1 legislative candidates.)
Strawn tries to tell others to live his way only
Thom Strawn's Aug. 25 column amazes us that one individual is so certain that he can solve all the world's ills if we all were to think and act as he believes.
Religion should not be a political tool. Personal convictions vary from individual to individual. That the Bible is the reference material for some does not denigrate the perfection of other religions. It is an insult to all peoples, not only Americans, but also people in any country who do not practice "Christianity" as their basic religion. To disavow the cherished beliefs or ideals of those whose belief system is different, or to challenge their thinking by arguing that their "Godlessness" is the foundation of all troubles in this country is naive and, well, pretty stupid.
True Christians do not endorse this kind of witch-hunting; nor do they try to foist their beliefs on others who hold a different mindset. Remember, the three most important things in life are faith, hope and charity.
Newspaper should accept Blewster's written answers
Please refer to "Arizona's Voter Education Guide," a voter's guide in booklet form sent to registered voters across the state. It says something about all of the District 1 candidates for Arizona representative. The information is important as well as interesting even though statements were submitted in writing. It doesn't leave out any candidate because of a personality conflict with the journalist responsible for its publication.
A newspaper's job is reporting news of interest to local residents. As a county resident and Courier subscriber, I want to read about all candidates. Omitting a candidate because of a reporter's personal opinion is wrong. Whether the reporting is based on spoken or written answers should not be an issue. Saying a candidate refused to be interviewed is not the whole truth. The candidate offers answers in writing to any questions you ask. When reporters accept written statements, the candidate can give sincere answers for informative reports. Some local readers and Yavapai voters prefer to make informed election choices based on ordinary information rather than prejudiced opinion or journalistic sensationalism put together from "he said, she said."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Every other candidate in the race seems to be fine with discussing his or her views face to face with reporters. The trouble with written questions in advance and written answers is we don't know who's doing the writing. In an interview we know who's doing the talking and thinking. We are voting for candidates – not their handlers.)