Monday, February 15, 2010

TOS Review: Ray's Arithmatic


Have you every seen one of those tests from the 1800's floating around on the internet?   There will be a math question like: Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.   And after seeing how difficult they are you learn that they're for the Eighth grade--not even high school level.  When I worked one of these problems (in college), I had tables and a financial calculator to work with.  How were these kids on the prairie learning math?

Now I know the answer: Ray's Arithmetic -- a series of books used almost exclusively in U.S. Schoolhouses from 1865 to 1915.   We received a copy of all the books in PDF format to review.  And there are a lot of books, beginning with Primary Arithmetic and going up to Integral Calculus.

I made the mistake of jumping right into the Primary Arithmetic text.  All I found was a list of questions for each lesson.  Here's a sample below:

I was totally lost until I went back to read the Manual of Methods and the Manual of Arithmetic, both of which instruct the teacher how to teach the lessons.  For the Primary lessons, all math is to be done orally and with manipulatives (the book doesn't actually use that word, it refers to "counters" or "objects").   So the lesson above is really questions for the teacher to be asking her student while she is demonstrating with concrete objects.  

Fritz was very comfortable doing math orally--in fact, he'd rather do that than have to put pencil to paper.  Ray's suggests the teacher use something like matchsticks and make bundles of ten matchsticks to teach place value.  I chose to use the color coordinated manipulatives from our normal curriculum for units, tens, and hundreds rather than make more work for myself. 

The lessons begin with adding and subtracting up to 10 + 10 = 20 and then switch to multiplication.  This is where I started with Fritz (Lesson 38).   By using real objects, he picked up the concept quickly (of course he had been unknowingly memorizing his times tables by watching Schoolhouse Rock videos).  I was surprised how quickly the lessons grew into multi-step problems.  By the lesson 50  review, he was being asked "How many are 2 and 5, less 4, multiplied by 3?"  Again, this is done orally.  It's not until Lesson 64 that students are introduced to the symbols we use (+,-,x, =) and the equations we recognize (11 + 5= 16).

The lessons at the end of the Primary text teach the students the units for U.S. money, English Money, weights, dry and liquid measures,  time, distance, etc.  There are some very obscure references here (24 sheets of paper make 1 quire) and also some equivalents for a more agricultural society (60 pounds of wheat make 1 bushel).  It's still all math and if you study these things you'll be ready to answer that 1800's eighth grade test that asks   "What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?"

All of the texts appear as bookmarks to the left hand side of the screen.  Without consulting my Webster's 1828 dictionary, the titles seem to overlap each other: Primary Arithmetic, Rudimentary Arithmetic, Elementary Arithmetic.  I presume they are listed in order and as you finish one you'd just going to the next text on the list.  The list isn't as organized as it could be--in some cases the answer key is listed below the student text, in other cases it appears in the bottom "Teacher's Edition" section, in the  Elementary text, the answer key is included at the end of the book. 

You'll also have to develop your own system for finding you current lesson as these are not bookmarked individually.  Some texts have a Table of Contents, others do not.

Ray's Arithmetic series is available on Cd from Dollar Homeschool for $59.  This one purchase could take care of your entire math curriculum --all students, all years.  It has a proven track record for roughly fifty years of America's history. 

You can see what my fellow Crewmates think of Ray's Arithmetic and its companion curriculum, the Eclectic Education Series by clicking here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Ray's Arithmetic series for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation.

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