Author Topic: Saxon Math/Classical Education  (Read 1040 times)

Offline JubilateDeo

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Saxon Math/Classical Education
« on: June 30, 2018, 01:05:26 PM »
Right now, my daughter is at a local Catholic parochial school.  It's Novus Ordo, but overall we've had a good experience.  I've liked every single one of her teachers--many of whom have taught at the school for years and years.  And I loved the principal, who was a old nun who embodied everything good about teaching nuns--she was warm and gentle with the children, but was also stern when she needed to, and unwilling to compromise to local pressure to teach that homosexuality was OK, or that 8th graders need to be taught about birth control.  We also completely lucked out this year with an awesome 3rd grade teacher who came from a big Catholic family herself and was really passionate about her faith and had the kids praying the Rosary in class every day. 

But a lot of teachers are retiring this year, so my younger daughter won't get to have them.  They got a new (laywoman) principal and my husband can't stand her.  She's got a very modernist approach.  That being said, she made some really good hiring decisions (amazing 3rd grade teacher was a new hire) and my kids aren't spending 6.5 hours a day with the principal so to me, the quality of the teachers matters a lot.    But still, the school could be more Catholic.  There are altar girls.  Most of the families aren't Catholic so my daughter is the weird Catholic kid who wears a beret during Mass (which I have to say, she handles with a lot of confidence and grace).  The other kids don't make fun of her for being "The weird Catholic kid at a Catholic school," but I wish she had peers at school who were from families like ours.

Enter the Classical school 45 minutes away.  The neighbor's kids go there (big Catholic family of 6 kids) and they love it. But they have different priorities than I do.  A lot of families there seem very Opus Dei, and after a few Opus Dei experiences I've had this year, I'm growing to really dislike them.  That being said, the school isn't run by Opus Dei and has no affiliation--it's a parochial school that's been around for over 100 years, but the new pastor (who wears a cassock) fired all of the staff, hired a new "headmaster" and revamped the curriculum into a Montessori Prek-1 with a Classical curriculum for grades 2-8.  Math in the younger grades is Montessori and then they switch to Saxon.  From the homeschoolers I know, I've heard good and bad things about Saxon.  My daughter normally loves school, but timed drills tend to make her anxious and it really made her hate Math this year.  They weren't even using an "old school" Math curriculum like Saxon, but my daughter is a very detail oriented person who likes to think things through and I don't know if something that stresses speed and timed drills is going to be a good match for her. 

My husband is 100% ready to write the check and send our kids to this school even though it's going to be 40 minutes away.  The school (while still being Novus Ordo) is more conservative.  There are no altar girls.  I know their music teacher because he goes to the TLM and he's very passionate about sacred music.  They won't be singing any Marty Haugen or David Haas, and my daughter won't be the only kid in the school who wears a headcovering.  She won't be the weird Catholic kid anymore.  That's great, but I also worry that the math isn't going to work for her. I've never heard of a school using Saxon, and I've heard a lot of "mixed reviews" from homeschoolers.

She did a shadow day in the 3rd grade class and my 4 year old spent some time in the Montessori classroom, and both loved it.  It helps that my 9yo grader already knows 6 of the kids who would be in her class from various church things and one of them is her best friend.  The downside is that a lot of these kids are kids she met through Opus Dei things.  But it's not the kid's fault that their parents are in Opus dei.  She said, "I'm ready for a change mom!"  What kind of 9 year old talks that way!  I'm not ready for a change.  Change is scary! 

I'm having a lot of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th thoughts, but I seem to be the only one who has any reservations.

As much as I love the idea of my children having a curriculum that's heavy on the Baltimore Catechism, classic texts, ancient and medieval history, all from a Catholic perspective, I worry that it isn't going to be practical for the real world.  If you sent your kids to a classical school or did Classical homeschooling I'd love to hear your perspective and what your children are doing with their education now. 
« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 01:08:32 PM by JubilateDeo »
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2018, 01:15:47 PM »
Among my children, some thrived on Saxon and others did not.  I do not think I could predict in advance which ones it would work well for. 

Even in a situation where Saxon isn't the best match for the child, if she likes the school and teacher that will compensate for this a fair bit.

The school sounds excellent from everything you have written about it and both your husband and daughter want the change.  It seems like a no brainer to me.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 
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Offline JubilateDeo

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2018, 01:51:16 PM »
Among my children, some thrived on Saxon and others did not.  I do not think I could predict in advance which ones it would work well for. 

Even in a situation where Saxon isn't the best match for the child, if she likes the school and teacher that will compensate for this a fair bit.

The school sounds excellent from everything you have written about it and both your husband and daughter want the change.  It seems like a no brainer to me.

Everyone I talk about this school with says "I'd go there in a heartbeat!" and our TLM parish has a lot of children who will be going there next year after years of homeschooling/public school.  It almost sounds too good to be true, but at the same time, I'm a very down to earth person and I find myself feeling very intimidated by the school in general.  Everyone there is so passionate about what they're doing that they sometimes come across as stuffy.   Calling the principal a "headmaster" sounds so incredibly "extra."  The Montessori teacher seems super passionate yet when I mentioned that I loved that the mixed age classsroom would give my little girl more play in Kindergarten than my older kid got, she said, "They're not PLAYING, they're WORKING" in a really serious voice that I found off putting.  I was TRYING to compliment her and say something positive.  Whenever I said anything mentioning "play" in the early childhood program, the "headmaster" and the montessori teacher were very quick to correct me that it's "work."  But the kids looked calm and happy, and my daughter seemed happy when I picked her up. And she's the sort of kid who makes it VERY clear when she doesn't like something :)
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 02:05:19 PM »
Since I am passionate and idealistic myself, I would probably see that as a plus in a school rather than something off-putting. It is difficult for me to relate to your feelings. Even so, the things that make you uncomfortable about the school don't seem like the sort of things that justify going against what your husband wants.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
 
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Offline Chestertonian

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 05:57:58 PM »
i've known a lot of people in the education field (and i've worked in a lot of different subsets of the field from special education, to music education (toddlers to geezers) to being a high school education teacher and i've observed firsthand that sometimes, there were teachers who were highly effective with the children who were awkward with parents and difficult for administration to work with.  I think early childhood is especially like that.  It takes a special person to hang out with toddlers and preschoolers all day and bring out their love of learning.  She might be a "3 year old whisperer" who is really bad with 30 and 40 year olds.  I've met a lot of those.  I did piano lessons to 3 year olds and I am a complete weirdo too.  Other people choose not to work with that age group because they'd want to rip their hair out.  also the language shes using is classic montessori.  you may clash over semantics but dont let that push you away from what might be a great education for your kids. 

as a parent i can relate to some of your anxiety you want to make the right choice, and you probably put a lot of pressure on yourself which can sometimes get projected onto the teacher.  Towards the end of the school year the teacher and principal might just be worn out and tired from dealing with anxious parents all the time.  as for principals, does anyone actually like them?  No one reminisces about their school days and says "man, i really miss my principal from middle school, he was so inspiring."  Does anyone ever say "that assistant principal really made a difference in my life."  "I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for that elementary school principal."  IT might be a true statement and i'm not saying principals don't matter (they set the whole tone for the school and make a lot of important decisions) but from the perspective of the child, she won't care if he's difficult. 

one thing id look for is how the teachers and the headmaster work together.  Does he seem to have their back?  How do the teachers act around the headmaster?  Is there a cohesive culture among both the teachers and administration? 

my wife has done a lot of stuff with opus dei and they've been pretty good to her--lots of her opus dei friends visited her in the hospital and one of the ladies has been bringing meals and helping take care of the baby.  a few of the men from the mens house came over at one point to visit me even though i dont go to the meetings because they are married to women who go to the womens house where my wife goes.  there are some good people.  i wouldnt reject a school because some of the members are opus dei.

also there are different levels of "opus dei" from people who go to nights of recollection every so often to supernumeraries...
"I am not much of a Crusader, that is for sure, but at least I am not a Mohamedist!"
 
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Offline The Curt Jester

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2018, 07:33:16 PM »
I'd get the children away from altar girls and sappy Haugen music.   Based on everything described, it seems a little odd to be worrying about the math program when everything else about the classical school sounds so much better.   On an aside, two of my siblings and I were homeschooled through high school and we used Saxon math.  No problems whatsoever.  My oldest brother went to a private high school and I think they used Saxon too.   He went for a math major in college.   Apparently it worked for us.
The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"
 
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Offline Davis Blank - EG

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2018, 11:42:06 PM »
This sounds like a no-brainer to me.  Your children will far better formed religiously and in terms of character by the classical education.  Who cares about math anyways - honestly, how much do any of us use it on a daily basis?  And if your child wanted a career that required high level mathematics but was incapable of self-learning said math then the child is not suitable for that career.
 
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Offline MundaCorMeum

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2018, 07:27:58 AM »
This sounds like a no-brainer to me.  Your children will far better formed religiously and in terms of character by the classical education.  Who cares about math anyways - honestly, how much do any of us use it on a daily basis?  And if your child wanted a career that required high level mathematics but was incapable of self-learning said math then the child is not suitable for that career.

Plenty of people use math everyday.  My husband and I both do.  He's an engineer and I teach it to my kids.  I plan to teach them all the way to calculus, because my educational background is heavy in math and I love it ;). Math is important,. at least to a certain degree, especially if a child has a knack for it.  I can already tell which of my kids do and which don't.  I still plan to at least expose all of them to higher level math, either way.  But, I do agree that if a person struggles with maths, they likely do not need to be in a math heavy field. 

Saxon is a really solid math program, but it is very teacher intensive.  Which is probably why you've heard mixed reviews.  For a teacher who loves math, they probably love Saxon, because they are passionate about the subject matter.  The converse is true, as well.  It being a good program doesn't mean it's a good fit for all, across the board.  We are doing well with it, but I may or may not use it this coming year.  It being very teacher intensive is now becoming a con for me, because I have so many students.  So, I will probably keep my older kids in that program, because they work independently and just come to me with questions.  But, for the younger kids I think I will either adapt it or find something else. 
 
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2018, 01:57:44 PM »
I wouldn't have considered Saxon teacher intensive.  When I was in high school, I started with my mom going over the lessons with me.  It didn't take me long to decide to do the lessons solo and only ask for help in the rare occasions the lessons were incomprehensible.  Most of the time I could spend several minutes reading the lesson then jump into problem-solving.

The main reason why I liked Saxon was that it eliminated the need for me to rely on a teacher that also had to teach other people.  No schedule conflicts!

Offline MundaCorMeum

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2018, 02:20:46 PM »
I wouldn't have considered Saxon teacher intensive.  When I was in high school, I started with my mom going over the lessons with me.  It didn't take me long to decide to do the lessons solo and only ask for help in the rare occasions the lessons were incomprehensible.  Most of the time I could spend several minutes reading the lesson then jump into problem-solving.

The main reason why I liked Saxon was that it eliminated the need for me to rely on a teacher that also had to teach other people.  No schedule conflicts!


It's teacher intensive in the younger grades (especially K-3, where the format is completely different than Saxon 5/4 and up).  My 6th and 8th grader did Saxon on their own this past year, including grading their own work.  They only came to me if they had problems.  I touched base with them here and there see how they were coming along, and occasionally did lessons with them to make sure they were grasping the concepts adequately.  Which is why I'll probably keep it for them.  But, I also have an upcoming 4th grader (who is not quite ready for Saxon 5/4; she needs a bridge year), 2nd grader, Kindergartner; a 4 year old, and an 18 month old.  Plus, all their other subjects, plus housework, meals, etc. (again, my oldest two are pretty much self-sufficient, and I'm changing things up next year to combine certain subjects for all the students, in order to use our time more efficiently).  The K-3 grades require ALOT of daily drill and meetings, plus the daily lesson, daily fact sheets, and daily homework sheets.  Those grades require more of my hands-on attention, as well.  I don't trust them to check their own answers properly quite yet, so I have to grade all their work, as well.  I have had my older kids do math grading for me, because it 1)helps me and 2)strengthens their math skills in the process.  But, it is getting to be a bit too demanding on my time, even though I really like the program.  Thus, I'm going to adapt it somehow, or just use something else. 
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 02:46:42 PM by MundaCorMeum »
 

Offline Davis Blank - EG

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2018, 09:41:12 AM »
This sounds like a no-brainer to me.  Your children will far better formed religiously and in terms of character by the classical education.  Who cares about math anyways - honestly, how much do any of us use it on a daily basis?  And if your child wanted a career that required high level mathematics but was incapable of self-learning said math then the child is not suitable for that career.

Plenty of people use math everyday.  My husband and I both do.  He's an engineer and I teach it to my kids.  I plan to teach them all the way to calculus, because my educational background is heavy in math and I love it ;). Math is important,. at least to a certain degree, especially if a child has a knack for it.  I can already tell which of my kids do and which don't.  I still plan to at least expose all of them to higher level math, either way.  But, I do agree that if a person struggles with maths, they likely do not need to be in a math heavy field. 

Saxon is a really solid math program, but it is very teacher intensive.  Which is probably why you've heard mixed reviews.  For a teacher who loves math, they probably love Saxon, because they are passionate about the subject matter.  The converse is true, as well.  It being a good program doesn't mean it's a good fit for all, across the board.  We are doing well with it, but I may or may not use it this coming year.  It being very teacher intensive is now becoming a con for me, because I have so many students.  So, I will probably keep my older kids in that program, because they work independently and just come to me with questions.  But, for the younger kids I think I will either adapt it or find something else.

While not clear from my writing, my comment is intended to be taken within context of the obsession modern education places upon math and science, especially in comparison to the derision given to religion, classical texts, history and philosophy.  The latter are what make a man.  The former not so much.  And with the exception of some engineers and scientists, the vast majority of the population barely uses math or science in their daily lives, yet everyone is a human and could well be in use of an education in what it means to be a human being.

Since there are limited hours in the day everything is a trade-off.  The original post expressed concern over falling behind in mathematics at the classical education school.  I'd much rather have my children well formed at such a school and care less about their math grades, if they were the type that could not grasp math.  And if it were just a matter of struggling but capable, then private tutoring or parental help should be able to clear it up with ease.  And if not, then again, who cares?

And if it matters, I have a B.Sc. in physics, so its not as if I have a vendetta against mathematics.  I just think its importance is enormously overblown for 95% of the population whom will hardly ever utilize even basic algebra, let alone trigonometry or calculus.  Simple calculation is all most people ever do with math in their lives or careers, and calculation is of course what is being drained out of the curriculum as calculators are given to ever younger children.

That all being said, when I homeschool my children I will aim for calculus or above, but it will be of near least importance in comparison to other areas of learning.
 
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Offline Bonaventure

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2018, 09:07:38 PM »
I have used Saxon as a teacher. I like it, and would be ok with my children using it. Like anything else in life, ymmv and some kids cant use it.
 

Offline MundaCorMeum

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2018, 09:52:49 AM »
This sounds like a no-brainer to me.  Your children will far better formed religiously and in terms of character by the classical education.  Who cares about math anyways - honestly, how much do any of us use it on a daily basis?  And if your child wanted a career that required high level mathematics but was incapable of self-learning said math then the child is not suitable for that career.

Plenty of people use math everyday.  My husband and I both do.  He's an engineer and I teach it to my kids.  I plan to teach them all the way to calculus, because my educational background is heavy in math and I love it ;). Math is important,. at least to a certain degree, especially if a child has a knack for it.  I can already tell which of my kids do and which don't.  I still plan to at least expose all of them to higher level math, either way.  But, I do agree that if a person struggles with maths, they likely do not need to be in a math heavy field. 

Saxon is a really solid math program, but it is very teacher intensive.  Which is probably why you've heard mixed reviews.  For a teacher who loves math, they probably love Saxon, because they are passionate about the subject matter.  The converse is true, as well.  It being a good program doesn't mean it's a good fit for all, across the board.  We are doing well with it, but I may or may not use it this coming year.  It being very teacher intensive is now becoming a con for me, because I have so many students.  So, I will probably keep my older kids in that program, because they work independently and just come to me with questions.  But, for the younger kids I think I will either adapt it or find something else.

While not clear from my writing, my comment is intended to be taken within context of the obsession modern education places upon math and science, especially in comparison to the derision given to religion, classical texts, history and philosophy.  The latter are what make a man.  The former not so much.  And with the exception of some engineers and scientists, the vast majority of the population barely uses math or science in their daily lives, yet everyone is a human and could well be in use of an education in what it means to be a human being.

Since there are limited hours in the day everything is a trade-off.  The original post expressed concern over falling behind in mathematics at the classical education school.  I'd much rather have my children well formed at such a school and care less about their math grades, if they were the type that could not grasp math.  And if it were just a matter of struggling but capable, then private tutoring or parental help should be able to clear it up with ease.  And if not, then again, who cares?

And if it matters, I have a B.Sc. in physics, so its not as if I have a vendetta against mathematics.  I just think its importance is enormously overblown for 95% of the population whom will hardly ever utilize even basic algebra, let alone trigonometry or calculus.  Simple calculation is all most people ever do with math in their lives or careers, and calculation is of course what is being drained out of the curriculum as calculators are given to ever younger children.

That all being said, when I homeschool my children I will aim for calculus or above, but it will be of near least importance in comparison to other areas of learning.

Indeed, I agree with all of the above.  Sorry for the misunderstanding :)
 

Offline drummerboy

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Re: Saxon Math/Classical Education
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2018, 07:08:33 PM »
This sounds like a no-brainer to me.  Your children will far better formed religiously and in terms of character by the classical education.  Who cares about math anyways - honestly, how much do any of us use it on a daily basis?  And if your child wanted a career that required high level mathematics but was incapable of self-learning said math then the child is not suitable for that career.

Really?  Take Logic 101 and you know what you'll find, those heartwarming equations from algebra where you have to find x and y and other fun things, just reworded.