Uncommon Lore: The Original Saxon Math Curriculum. MATH, a firm foundation to build a homeschool on
More Math nonsense HERE.
If you are a parent to an elementary student in public school, chances are you have heard one of these terms to describe Current Math Curriculums:
New “New” Math
World Class Math
Common Core Math
Fuzzy Headed bizzy work so bored I want to die Math
What you really need to know about Math is that all serious Mathematicians agree, the original SAXON Math curriculum, especially the second edition, has no equal, and is the best in the marketplace.
So I am going to begin this essay with a really sad story.
Once upon a time a brilliant mathematician named John Saxon decided to make it his life’s work to create an incremental curriculum from Arithmetic to Calculus and everything in between.
He published his books and educators and parents quickly flocked to his textbooks and everyone agreed they were the best and most effectively superior Math Texts ever written.
John had to deal with some Homeschooling Parents who took issue with certain words in his books: Click HERE to read Mary Prides overview of early controversies.
“Aim . . . fire . . . ready! What’s going on here? Why are some home schoolers sniping at the best math program ever made available to home schoolers? Why do some homeschool magazines refuse to accept ads from its publisher, or even mention the program’s name?
I’m talking about the famous Saxon Math program, developed by former Air Force officer and high-school math instructor John Saxon. In spite of test after test showing that the use of Saxon Math increases algebra enrollment by up to 400 percent, and that Saxon Math students radically outperform students using other math programs, Mr. Saxon has been fighting an uphill battle to get his program used in the public schools. Opposed by leftist groups such as NOW, on the grounds that his books fail to promote feminism, political correctness, and the New World Order, Saxon was delighted to find out about the homeschooling movement. Surely home schoolers would appreciate his books for what they are — excellent and witty math teaching devices!
Then came the pie in the face. A few home schoolers took it upon themselves to start circulating letters condemning the Saxon texts as “New Age” and urging others to boycott them.”
Most educators of good will understood that his texts were treasures.
In an article titled The Legend of John Saxon, Math Warrior Bruce Dietrick Price wrote:
“Over the years I often heard the name John Saxon but knew for sure only that his books were popular among homeschoolers. I was under the impression that he wrote his books for them. Not true. He wrote his books for every kid stuck in a classroom.
I’ve just finished “John Saxon’s Story: a genius of common sense in math education,” an excellent biography by Nakonia Hayes. It is a smart, judicious book with 340 pages. It is not a potboiler, not really a page-turner. But it tells the life story of a totally remarkable man. I think it’s correct to say that John Saxon is the greatest American educator of the last hundred years. He is unique in our history. If you want to understand the wreck that is American public education, read this book. If you are a teacher or parent hoping to defeat the treachery in the school system, read this book…
…If you told me the NCTM is a Communist front, I would think, now everything makes sense. However, if you insist that NCTM is composed of patriotic Americans, I would have to insist in return that they must live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. About math education, they are right as often as a stopped clock. John Saxon is right the rest of the time.
Please note that all the bad ideas in Reform Math are now being rebranded as Common Core Curriculum. John Saxon died in 1996. We need him more than ever.
As noted, Nakonia (“Niki”) Hayes is a careful and scholarly narrator. So far she has been a teacher, counselor, school principal, journalist, and now author. She understands the genius of John Saxon’s methods. I came away thinking that Hayes would be an excellent Secretary of Education.”
Here are a few SAXSONISMS:
Results, not methodology, should be the basis of curriculum decisions.
Creativity springs unsolicited from a well prepared mind.
Fundamental knowledge is the basis of creativity.
Creativity can be discouraged or encouraged, but creativity cannot be taught.
Problem solving is a process of concept recognition and concept application.
Problem solving is merely the application of previously learned concepts.
The “art” of problem solving cannot be taught.
The use of productive thought patterns can be taught,
but the act of “critical thinking” cannot be taught.
Mathematics is an individual sport and is not a team sport.
Students do not detest work; they detest effort without purpose.
Beautiful explanations do not lead to understanding.
Saxon books will win every contest by an order of magnitude.
To finish this expose on what has happened to the Saxon Books I share the complete expose’ article by Linda Schrock Taylor (all of you who are new to Homeschool would do well to spend several hours reading all of Lindas Articles hosted HERE at Lew Rockwell.
by Linda Schrock Taylor
by Linda Schrock Taylor
Harcourt Achieve acquired Saxon Publishers in 2004. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Harcourt Achieve provides customer-driven educational materials that fundamentally and positively change the lives of young, adolescent, and adult learners and empower those who teach them. The company is also the publisher of the Rigby and Steck-Vaughn product lines.
I never thought I could ever be critical of Saxon Math, and frankly, had Saxon, Wang, et al, retained ownership of Saxon Publishers, I am confident that I would not have been presented with issues to which I take great exception; to terminology such as “provides customer-driven educational materials” that I find both foolish and frightening.
However, Saxon did make the regrettable decision to sell out to the Harcourt group, and now New-Saxon, its decisions, and its rewriting and restructuring of products, are fair game for close analysis and critical comments.
I am distressed to read that the order of the topics has been changed in the rewritten books already on the market, despite the red herring claim that the company values the incremental steps of the original Saxon books. I am frustrated to read that instead of instructing, the teacher will serve as “tutor and coach.” This sounds too much like New-Math to those of us who mourn the loss of America’s competitive edge in mathematics, and strongly disapprove of the crazy educational ideas coming out of universities and teacher training colleges — from the very people who should be more astute and analytical; from those who are being paid to know better.
I cannot help but feel sadness and great concern at the probable loss of the effective, efficient, incremental, building-block philosophies that John Saxon brought: to math instruction; to teachers and homeschooling parents wishing to teach lean, hard mathematical principles, concepts and applications while avoiding fuzzy, dumbed down fluff like leaf and stem problems; illogical sequencing of material; procedures that teachers, themselves, have difficulty internalizing, let alone teaching to others.
Progressive-minded teachers will feel fine about the very changes that we dread. If teachers are only required to wander the room as coaches, and encouraged to believe that uneducated children are capable of “constructing knowledge” then teachers will come off smelling like proverbial roses. When children fail to construct knowledge, as most certainly will occur, the blame will be put squarely on the innocent students and duped parents. Such teachers will absolve themselves of any guilt by recalling that they roamed the room as expected and so should not be found at fault just because few children bothered to ask questions.
I cannot help but think of John Hersey’s assertion in his book, The Child Buyer, that — everyone has a price.
I cannot help but feel relief that we were able to homeschool our son with Saxon’s original and very effective middle and high school level books: Saxon 76, Algebra ½, Algebra I, Algebra II, Advanced Math, and even Calculus, before the company was sold and the rewriting / restructuring began. I feel fortunate to have Saxon Physics on-hand, ready for use.
As they become available, I will order copies of each rewritten / reformatted textbook and compare them closely to the original Saxon books. I will write of any discrepancies, dumbed down instruction, and confused concepts that I find. As noted above, already the New-Saxon website uses New-Math terminology and reorganized materials are on the market within months of Harcourt acquiring Saxon. I cannot help but believe that the plans for such progressive changes were in place prior to the closure of the sale.
I really would like to ask New-Saxon why they are changing from the traditional hardback books to consumable workbooks, and why now? I also would like to ask them why they are changing the order of topic presentation in books that have proven to be so successful, and why now?
Quite recently, my son and I read — and we both believe it was on the Saxon website although the information is no longer prominently posted there, if posted at all — that seventy percent (70%) of homeschooling families use the Saxon math materials.
It was good to know that so many children are being taught real math, although I do feel that the percentage claimed is far too low. Innumerable families purchase used copies of the Saxon Math books on Ebay, or from other families, or from homeschooling groups. These purchases would be missed in a publisher’s count of “number of materials sold to homeschooling families,” so it must be nearly impossible to know exactly how many homeschooled children are using Saxon Math books, and whether they are using new or used copies.
Since there are millions of children who have been, or are being homeschooled, the number of Saxon math books sold would be several million. Of course…there would be several million more sold if the books were consumable and thus able to meet the needs of only one child, rather than meet the needs of all the children in one family; plus all the children of the family that later buys the used copies; plus the children of the family that buys the used-used copies…
Using the traditional Saxon math books, a family with, say five children, would only need to buy one (1) copy of each book for each level, K-through-Calculus. At the lower elementary levels the family would only need to buy the fairly inexpensive workbooks in order to teach the next child in line. The instructional materials would already be in the family’s possession, having been purchased for the first child. Once a child moved into the hardback books, further purchases would be totally unnecessary.
Thus, when a child finished Saxon 54, the Saxon 65 book would already be in the home and available for that child and each successive sibling. Through the years, five children would each use the single copy of each book. After all five children completed a level; the family could sell the used books on Ebay and recoup many of their original costs. Other families would find the books that they seek on Ebay, and save the cost of purchasing new books. What an efficient set-up for homeschooling families! What a loss of sales for New-Saxon — if the company were to continue publishing sturdy, long-lasting, multi-child-serving, hardback math books.
I would also like to ask New-Saxon if they are purposefully making changes that will put a heavy financial burden upon homeschooling families; if they are striving, on their own, or under someone else’s agenda, to discourage parents from choosing to homeschool; if they are thinking that, if parents decide to homeschool, despite all the roadblocks continually thrown up before them, at least their children will join the rest of America’s children in being subjected to dumbed-down new-new-math. I do not feel at all comfortable with any changes being made to the tried and true Saxon books, let alone those changes described, even briefly, at the website. I hope that John Saxon joins me in questioning his decision to sell his company to a publisher that would, by August of the year of the sale, have rewritten books on the market with topics reorganized and coaches replacing teachers.
Dr. John Saxon was, for me, the last major holdout in our struggle to defeat the destructive forces of: progressivism; globalism; New-Math; whole language; balanced literacy; “customer-driven materials”; textbook publishers that build future sales upon the failure of their very own educational products to meet the expectations (of parents and taxpayers, at least) that instructional materials actually teach skills and knowledge integral to the process for developing scholars.
What will become of schools when all classrooms are coached by progressively trained, jargon speaking, educators? Instead of actually teaching children, will these people focus on smiling broadly, wandering about the rooms, echoing the publishers’ dialogue, and perfecting methods by which they can live, coach, and self-evaluate according to the following advice?
“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” ~ W.C. Fields.
What will schools become? They will become empty buildings with boarded up windows. Many have already crossed over that line.
With the sale of the traditional Saxon methods for instruction, to the progressive New-Saxon with its game plan for coaches, the last hope for successful reform of America’s public schooling system absolutely died. There will never be an educational plan formulated and directed by the central government, or even the individual state governments, that will be successful. Mark my words. They speak of standards but count smoke rings.
Despite the rhetoric, the laws, the costs — effective instruction will still be done by dedicated, traditional teachers and parents, working in isolated groups — in an occasional public school; at kitchen tables across the nation; in traditional private and parochial schools. Only these few will truly focus on real scholarship; only these few will continue to struggle — against the numbing factors of the culture, the media, the textbooks, the directives of the State; against heart breaking odds — to open minds, teach skills, convey knowledge and thus nurture scholars.
True educators are coming to realize that they are incapable of slowing, let alone stopping, the waves of progressive poison moving with the currents and the trends through the halls of government schools, and through too many private and parochial schools, as well. Where we used to plan offensive actions, now we attempt to build defensive walls that can enclose and protect our isolated enclaves. Now we only hope that we can fill a gap and guard our small groups as the destructive forces pass across the land with their final solution to the problems inherit within, and created by, the State-run system of public schools. The irony is that like parasites, progressive educators are destroying the hosts upon which they feed and thrive. When the host dies, so do the parasites. Final solution?…the closure of all government schools.
Do not mourn the passing of the public education monopoly, for other than the children, there is little worth saving. Let us turn away from the State’s vision and gather those precious children to us. Let us, as citizens acting in the best interests of our children and our communities, establish, lead and teach in small neighborhood schools — schools of our design, our vision, our investment. Let us teach towards the revival of a literate, discerning citizenry; not towards the survival of the State. Let us teach every child to claim, then safeguard, their rights and their freedoms. Such vitally important instruction is best accomplished at familial and neighborhood levels. Let us build walls to keep the State away from our right to educate our own children, and let us do it now.
I can empathize with John Saxon for leaving the dying and distressing educational arena for even I have found the thought of escape quite enticing. However, with the sale of Saxon, our cause lost a leader who shared our visions and goals. Dr. John Saxon stood as a beacon of hope, as well as a provider of quality materials, to those of us fighting to save children from the cruel outcomes planned, and being enforced, by the Progressives. Our jobs will be much more difficult if we allow all traditional Saxon mathematics books to be replaced by consumable workbooks with disordered topics. Our hearts will be heavy without John Saxon to stand tall against the Progressives and lead our way.
In our last stand, however, there will be Ebay partnering with us to keep those fine, incremental, hardback Saxon math books circulating — from family to family; in the hands of millions of homeschooled children; through many years and many cycles. Our hopes for a return to the America of our Founding Fathers will rest upon the shoulders of children who have been, and will be, educated in scholarly homeschools and scholarly neighborhood schools. Support independent local schools. They will be America’s only chance for survival.
August 30, 2004
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is a free-lance writer and the owner of “The Learning Clinic,” where real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com
Here are some final thoughts from Benjamin Hatch:
Read Previous Essays in the Uncommon Lore Series of Homeschool Essays written by Jenny Hatch
Part 1 UNCOMMON LORE: INTRODUCTION
Part 2 UNCOMMON LORE: THE BEGINNING
Part 4 UNCOMMON LORE: THE ORIGINAL SAXON MATH CURRICULUM, MATH, A FIRM FOUNDATION TO BUILD A HOMESCHOOL ON…
UPDATE May 10th
In a post at Math Recap Blog titled Math Specialists Get Ready Now: Common Core Assessments Are Coming
BY RAYMOND JOHNSON | PUBLISHED MAY 6, 2013 I have had an interesting chat with one of the Pearson curriculum developers in the comment section tied to the post.
Jenny Hatch says:
May 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Common core proponents are yelling they are just offering standards to school boards and parents, not curriculum.
When the big progressive corporate powers that be bought out all of the Independent Math Curriculum Companies, they made certain to dumb them all down knowing that when curriculum committees went looking for a “world class” Math book, it really did not matter which one was chosen, because they all stunk.
Heads they win, Tails we lose…Suckas!
Here is what they did to Saxon Math:
Bowen Kerins says:
May 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm
Working for an Independent Math Curriculum Company, I can assure you that we have not all been bought out, nor have we been dumbed down. Have a look sometime… uh… suckas?
Your claim that “all serious Mathematicians agree, the original SAXON Math curriculum, especially the second edition, has no equal, and is the best in the marketplace” is far from accurate.
Jenny Hatch says:
May 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm
Does your excellent, world class, bar none the best on the planet Math Curriculum have an accompanying “Remedial” program tied to it?
So that when the younguns’ use your materials approximately 33 1/2 % of the children need a Math Specialist and “Special” curriculum?
The thing is all of you specialists need to understand that a group of people are very much aware of the tactics beings used to dumb down American Children and we are not going to sit quietly down and just let this monstrosity percolate in the schools without trying to expose the frauds.
You need to “Simma Down”, taka a chill pill, and decide if you want to be a part of the problem or of the solution…
Homeschooling Mom and General Rabble Rouser about #CommonCore
Bowen Kerins says:
May 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm
I don’t see myself as a specialist, I see myself as a former high school teacher who started writing books because I thought we could make something better than what existed. (That appears to be the same biography as Mr. Saxon.)
Today I spent the entire day working with math teachers in Lawrence, MA as they begin implementing a schoolwide curriculum at their high school for the first time in many years, and I am proud that they will be using our program, CME Project. We have previously shown success (in student achievement, efficacy, in standardized testing) in many other cities. CME Project is written by teachers with over 100 years of combined classroom experience, funded by the National Science Foundation, and field-tested for five years before publishing. Some of the work in CME Project was incorporated into the Common Core State Standards, particularly the Standards for Mathematical Practice intended to highlight eight deep goals of K-12 mathematics, such as persistent problem-solving, using precise language, and generalizing from repeated reasoning.
Our materials are built with a low-threshold, high-ceiling approach so that all … uhh, younguns’? … can learn and succeed. Our curriculum has very high standards, and students rise to meet those standards. Students learn math by working on math problems — good problems, connected to one another, with both short-term and long-term goals.
Our program comes with support for students who enter our curriculum below grade level, while continuing to ask those students to take on work at level. We have consistently found that students can and will take on challenging mathematical tasks if they are given the opportunity to work on them, gaining self-efficacy and perseverance through work.
None of this happens without high-quality teachers doing their work. I will always be grateful for the great work of these professionals. It’s an honor to work with teachers and students around the country, and a privilege to see our work succeeding in measurable ways.
However, it may instead be true that I am destroying America and am a complete fraud who needs to simmer down. I suggest you read through our curriculum, talk to teachers who use it, and get a sense of what we wrote and why we wrote it. The chance of this happening may be less than “approximately 33 1/2%” — seriously, why didn’t you just say “approximately one-third” — but I’m always glad to defend our work. Thanks for reading!
Jenny Hatch says:
May 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm
Thanks for explaining what you do.
I appreciate the overview mostly because Pearson has been fingered as the company with the most at stake in the Common Core rollout.
As a parent my biggest issue with the reading and math curriculums is the recidivism of the various companies.
And really, who can blame them with all that lovely money flowing in. Taxpayer money mostly.
My own research and frankly, national test scores, have proven year after year after year that nothing has changed, children are still being taught with materials DESIGNED to ensure that ONE THIRD of them will need remediation in math and reading.
With so many careers on the line and so much cash to be pumped into the glory hole of the cash cow that is American Education, WHO has the will to reform this glutonous system???
I think of the curriculum companies the same way I think of the Pharma companies who run Medicine.
When the business model DEPENDS on a high percentage of sickness and educational failure…well, I just do NOT believe Taxpayers should be funding this madness.
If we had a truly competitive private sector in education and medicine, with no taxpayer slush fund, everyone would be amazed to watch how quickly these sick systems of education and medicine reformed themselves.
But when every Johnnie and Susie has ten grand tucked away in their backpack every year to be doled out to whoever is smart enough to GO FOR THE GOLD, and when Johnnie and Susie have twenty grand per year if someone can just manage to get them labeled reading or math challenged…
Well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even a Math specialist, (sorry, teacher) to crunch them numbers…
From: Linda S. Taylor ;
To: Jenny Hatch ;
Subject: RE: question
Sent: Wed, Sep 11, 2013 5:54:39 PM
Thank you for your mail and thank you for asking for my approval. And thank you for posting one of my article. I appreciate your confidence. It is fine that you posted it. Lew Rockwell does ask for an active link but that is probably there. I didn’t check.
But if you could post a small disclaimer….that when I wrote the article I was unaware of the death of John Saxon ,and that it was his _children_ who sold Saxon Math, not John…I would greatly appreciate it. I have always felt badly that this article reads like censure of Mr. Saxon, a man who is indeed my hero.
Linda Schrock Taylor
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2013 23:43:45 -0700
I used one of your articles in a recent blog post, just wanted to make certain it was OK: http://jennyhatch.com/2013/04/30/uncommon-lore-the-original-saxon-math-curriculum-math-a-firm-foundation-to-build-a-homeschool-on/
Please let me know,
From: Nakonia Hayes ;
To: Jenny Hatch ;
Subject: Re: [The Natural Family BLOG] Contact
Sent: Sat, Sep 28, 2013 10:55:05 PM
I’ll send a book this week. No need to help with the postage; thanks for the offer, though. Yes, you can include my letter because I don’t think Linda meant any harm; she just had some bad information.
From: Jenny Hatch
To: Nakonia Hayes
Sent: Saturday, September 28, 2013 1:07 PM
Subject: Re: [The Natural Family BLOG] Contact
Nikki, I would love a copy of your book! Jenny Hatch
Would you be willing for me to include your letter in my post? I would like for my readers to see for themselves the controversy regarding the aquisition of Saxon by Harcourt. I believe an open and honest conversation will inform parents and educators that some curricular mischief has been going on, and that keeps the textbook companies more honest and it provides parents the option to homeschool and or keep vigilent as they watch the curriculum developers when they mess with things. If I can slide you a few dollars for postage just let me know. Thanks! Jenny
From: Nakonia (Niki) Hayes ; To: ; Subject: [The Natural Family BLOG] Contact Sent: Sat, Sep 28, 2013 5:29:40 PM
Name: Nakonia (Niki) Hayes
I’ve just read your wonderful words about Saxon Math. Thanks for including Bruce Price’s review of my biography of John Saxon’s Story, a genius of common sense in math education. I would be happy to send you a copy of the biography (free!) as I do with anyone who will use it to promote John as the “Superman” we didn’t have to wait for (still don’t) in math education. He even managed to survive and THRIVE against the social kryptonite of the establishment leaders because he really was a true warrior spirit in fighting for things he thought equalled a “good war,” especially regarding children.
My caution is about using Linda Shrock Taylor’s article because it has many errors. Linda and I communicated a lot in my early days of researching the biography. She is a marvelous lady and a good teacher, from all I could see. However, as you probably realize, the K-8 Saxon textbooks have not changed their content matter. Neither has the Calculus book.
That’s because Stephen Hake, Nancy Larson, and Frank Wang all have authors’ rights and the content could not be changed when Saxon was sold to Harcourt Brace. The books that John wrote were fair game, and changes have been made, particularly in the Alg. 2 book and by adding a geometry book, which John never would have permitted. (As a geometry and algebra teacher, I didn’t like that because I loved geometry as a stand-alone subject. When I wrote his biography, I leaned about his reasoning on the matter.)
Also, Linda’s article really caused heartache for John’s children, who struggled mightily against having to sell Saxon Publishing. His youngest daughter was furious about the mistakes in Linda’s writing.
I am dismayed that Saxon products (including grammar and writing now) are not promoted by the publisher. With Common Core, that will be even more the case because Stephen, Nancy, and Frank will NOT change the content of their books. If I could win a huge lottery, I would set them up in business!
If you want a copy of the biography, let me know. John was a fantastically interesting and colorful person.
Time: September 28, 2013 at 10:29 am
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