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Blog - Mathematics

Talks for Primary School Teachers

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We are pleased to be able to offer a limited number of copies of the influential book by Madeline Goutard at a reduced price.

The book, Talks for Primary School Teachers, looks at the work of Dr Caleb Gattegno is a lucid commentary on the teaching approach to be adopted with the Cuisenaire Rods, written by a gifted teacher whose work with children has been a source of inspiration for many. This text includes valuable practical suggestions for classroom work.

These copies are available at a reduced price because of some slight staining by the staples, which have now been replaced.

Purchase your copy from us now.

This book will be welcomed by everyone who teaches mathematics by the Cuisenaire-Gattegno method. For here we have down-to-earth advice and a great deal of help from someone who herself has a wide experience of the material. Psychologist and educationalist as well as a practising teacher, Madeleine Goutard has recognised many of the misconceptions and misunderstandings that can arise when a new approach is introduced. She deals with each of these with a constructive clarity which the reader soon recognises to be one of her most striking qualities.

The greater part of the book discusses the questions that spring to the mind of the newcomer to the approach, and to the teacher with some experience of the rods.

Questions such as:

  • Can children be introduced to the rods at any stage in their schooling?
  • Do they become too dependent on the material?
  • What is the role of memorisation?
  • How can children acquire a proper understanding of fractions?

The author's advice is at all times practical and thoughtful. She suggests solutions to classroom problems, but more than this, she gives us guidance on the approach itself. "Anyone who takes up the Cuisenaire-Gattegno method", she says, "breaks with ingrained habit and acquires an attitude of research".

This is not a textbook, nor an ABC of the rods, but a study in simple language of the Cuisenaire-Gattegno approach to mathematics teaching.

Here is the original review by Dr Gattegno after the original publication.

"Mathematics and Children, a reappraisal of our attitude" by MADELEINE GOUTARD. Educational Explorers Ltd., 1963.

This will be the fourth title in the Mathematics Teaching Series published by Educational Explorers. In it an outstanding teacher has made an invaluable contribution to education by putting in front of teachers the evidence found in eight years of continuous study of what small children can do in mathematics. While translating this book I was constantly cheered at the thought of being able to make English-speaking teachers share my excitement and joy in the contact of these many youngsters whose work forms the substance of the evidence accumulated. Never has such massive evidence been put together about so many sides of what is involved in learning mathematics. Never has the case for a reappraisal of our attitude to mathematics in relation to the learners and of children in relation to mathematics been made more eloquently. Madeleine Goutard is a shy and cautious woman in so many of her manifestations but here she appears as a thunder, forcing readers to take notice of what she says about what she found. And what she found can be reached by everyone else whose eyes are open and who meet children while they are learning mathematics in the way it is possible today. The second part of the title of her book is the explanation of the first. The author has been brought to write about mathematics and children because she wants readers to reappraise their attitude towards what ordinary children can actually do, if instead of being blindly led in blind alleys, they are taken by competent and sensitive teachers into activity that educates them, while producing mathematical knowledge as a by-product. The author’s analyses of the various components of the encounter with mathematics by young children makes fascinating reading by any standard and parents as well as any adult engaged in the contemplation of the future will find this book of great help in sorting out their ideas. The table of contents is as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Ch I Dangers of empiricism
  • Ch II Mathematics writing, its elaboration from 'scratch'
  • Ch lll Naming and writing numbers in various bases
  • Ch IV Techniques of calculation and mental arithmetic
  • Ch V Applied arithmetic

Each chapter is full of insights as well as of data which could become topics of discussion among investigators of modern educational and psycho-logical theory. I find in this book, written in such clear language and with almost no jargon, enough suggestions for research of the badly needed type to recommend it specially to specialists, while the same subject matter makes me warmly recommend it unhesitatingly to practising teachers at all levels of education. Let me end this presentation by expressing my personal thanks to the author for the deeper joys I was allowed to receive from this text by being its translator besides having been its reader in the original manuscript.

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