Australian versus American Maths Texts
© Beverley Paine
Many homeschoolers are quite happy to do unit studies for the humanities - history, geography, culture; and also environmental studies and science, but most of us resort to using curriculum texts for maths.
On the homeschooling email list once someone asked about the value of using Australian texts as opposed to using American texts. Her worry was about reported gaps in the curriculum of American texts, particularly with the different sequencing, and also with the need to follow through with just one curriculum for the entire period of schooling. This subject has been covered before in the newsletter, but the reply offered on the list by John Angelico, was comprehensive and sensible and worth repeating!
John is often asked about American versus Australian material and this was his answer:
1. Maths is Maths all around the world;
2. Every curriculum publisher does things slightly differently, as does every teacher (even in Australia);
3. It's up to you where you stop - it's YOUR program, that is you teach your children - not the books;
4. US materials still teach metric although a bit too thoroughly and they teach US/British imperial measurements and use US currency BUT we parents are usually intelligent enough to adapt, skip over or ignore certain bits;
5. The purported gaps are things like stats which I never met in my secondary stuff and happily avoided at tertiary level too (since I did accounting), and the "problem" with the sequence only arises if you "blindly" follow a curriculum (like ACE) without completing it. But if you change curriculum a Diagnostic Test will show what needs to be covered to avoid gaps.
In summary, we can cope with all the problems raised by applying ourselves intelligently to the job at hand. Some problems like Australian money simply disappear because we use it every day. Who needs to "teach" about our notes and coins?
The supposed solution - to follow an Australian curriculum all the way through to year 12 is just as "blind" as following a US curriculum.
What you "should" do (only you can answer that question) all depends on:
a) the content of the curriculum you choose, and
b) the target you have in mind: Uni course needs strong Maths? Then choose what you need to do that course. Saxon Maths is US but it is so thorough and prepares a student so well for SAT exams (and thus for tertiary entry in Australia as well as elsewhere) that we and LEM recommend it almost exclusively. If Maths is not a big deal then trust your own judgement and "do what you like".
Hope this helps you think through what you need to do without pushing
you in any particular direction..."
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