This post will introduce a free complete math curriculum.
“When will we ever use this?”
Isn’t that the question we all have while slaving over books filled with rocket-science math? Most of us cannot come up with a compelling answer.
I happen to enjoy working math problems. To me, it is like solving a series of complex puzzles with a long list of rules, which I think of as fun because…I’m a glutton for punishment!
And I have foisted this on my children quite often, to their dismay and my aching ears (from their laments).
But math was not always this way. There was actually a time when it was taught with an actual, practical purpose; to help people live productive and purposeful lives (not just to pass college exams and then forget it).
There are all sorts of old stuff still available today, and some in print (such as Ray’s arithmetic series done by Mott Media).
But, we aren’t limited in this area, thanks to Google Books. This is where we can find arithmetic series such as the ones done by George Wentworth (and some along with David Eugene Smith)
What we call “Wentworth Arithmetic” is actually a series of books written by George Wentworth and David Eugene Smith and published by Ginn and Company in the early 1900’s.
These books are unique in our age because they were published at a time when arithmetic was becoming important in education, but before the pushes for every child to become a “rocket scientist.”
As we have been enjoying these books, we are finding that there is a unique flavor and focus to them. Here are some of the distinctives we have discovered:
- The problems take basic principles and expand them to cover every facet of living, from measuring feed for chickens to measuring lumber to make furniture and build houses. This is from the preface to Elementary Arithmetic:
…the pupil should be led to his arithmetic through paths which are interesting; that he should see that he is studying a subject which is usable in school, in his play, in his home, and in all other phases of his daily life; and that, so far as possible, the applications should be real to the pupil…It is possible to accomplish all this by arranging the work by arithmetic topics, showing the pupil the reason for studying each topic and the uses to which it can be applied.
- Instructions and tips for teachers are right on the page. No extra books required–this curriculum truly “open and go.”
- Skipping problems is encouraged! The generous amount of questions are only there for extra practice.
Indeed, in general, a teacher should learn the importance of omitting exercises whenever those exercises do not relate to the experiences or probable needs of the pupils.Preface to Book Two
- The authors present a method for solving problems, then encourage students to formulate their own methods (yes, original thinking is actually encouraged–I can hear your body hitting the floor as you faint away…).
There is so much practicality to this arithmetic that you will never have to hear the question, “When will we ever use this?”
It is gradual, it is logical, and it is thorough.
The only problem may be with children who look at the pages of problems and feel a bit overwhelmed. Reassuring them they will not have to answer every question is one way to overcome their fears. Sometimes we skip over entire sections, other times we do every odd or even problem, still other times we may skip to every third or fifth problem.
Each book covers two or more years in modern grade levels.
- Primary/Elementary covers Kindergarten through first grade
- Book Two covers grades two through four
- Book Three covers grades five through six
- Book Three covers grades seven through eight.
The third book is actually an exploration of consumer and business math. This is extremely important, but woefully neglected, in our current culture.
I know you are excited to peruse the actual files, so here are the links:
And, if you decide to print out the books, here is a free PDF of covers you can download and print out (I created these using Canva, you could easily create your own):